Every Friday, BULLETT’s introducing our favorite Instagram profiles and getting to know the people behind the posts.
Beatrice Bonato loves Instagram, but doesn’t see the point of curating only the most picturesque moments of her life. Instead, she challenges the platform’s status quo of mindless lifestyle ‘gramming with anti-lifestyle posts. Of course, the 25-year-old artist still posts pictures of her houseplants and cat, but they’re distorted to look more like frames from a horror movie set, than perfect selfies and TBT’s.
Even though she’s made a name for herself as a glitch artist, Bonato doesn’t consider herself a “purist” when it comes to form. She actually stumbled on the medium by accident, taking photos on her old phone with a broken camera and producing self-distorted shots. When her friends pressured her into making an Instagram, her otherworldly collection found its home. As @bonniethuderstorms, the artist has experimented with different methods since then, like remixing the code of an audio file with that of an image, and layering the effects of tons of different editing apps. But her best work maintains the feeling of a bad acid trip, where you start to feel sad and can’t stop hallucinating teardrop emojis.
Since starting her Instagram, the Italian-born artist has moved beyond lo-fi cat pics to cultivate a visual identity that’s part binary code, part Gaspar Noe. Exploring the confines of the body and the contradictions of internet socialization, Bonato uses glitch to understand her own emotions––even if the end results aren’t easily comprehensible. That’s actually the point. While we definitely relate to her “Netflix and Kill Me” ideology, she keeps her audience at a distance through broken code and static. And in a serious fuck you to the over-sharing narcissism of Instagram culture, her work captures a lonely, pixelated world.
How did you get into glitch art?
It was at a time when I realized that all my friends had found their dimension in art, but I hadn’t. I had an old phone with a terrible camera, and the phone would just self-glitch any photos I took. I started to find my dimension in that, realizing that I’m better at destroying stuff than creating it.
Why do you use Instagram to share your work?
When I got my first smart phone, my friends told me to make an Instagram, but I had no interest in posting my daily life: my cat, my friends, my food––I was really against it. So I still uploaded those lifestyle photos, but I destroyed them until they were unrecognizable. It was a protest against the world of tags and likes for likes. And I really enjoyed trying to tell a story through a visual post that wasn’t actually made to be understood by other people.
Why were you so against the lifestyle part?
I made an Instagram because of peer pressure––I didn’t like it, because everyone ends up looking the same, or trying to look the same. So I wanted to play with the stereotypes it’s bred. In Milan, there’s a trend of taking selfies with lots of plants, because it’s so cool right now to have a plant in your apartment. And I don’t get why. Why is it trendy to drink a certain type of water or take a photo with a plant?
How would you describe your work?
There are different layers to each of my pieces, and it’s difficult to explain because it’s very personal. I often wonder what people think of what I do, because I barely understand it myself. It’s my escape from pain and reality. When I express my feelings through my art, I feel realized afterwards. My feelings then look good, and they’re out of me.
How has your art evolved?
When I realized I could express myself more through this type of art, I stepped away from the critical view and started dealing with the stuff that actually had gave me something to say: the expression of the human body, and battling against censorship. I also wanted to state the fact that you don’t have to use expensive tools or be super skilled at Photoshop in order to make something that looks great in the end.
What do you think of Instagram’s tendency to censor work that explores femininity and the female body?
When I first created my profile, I got banned on the second day because I mentioned porn in a caption. The image was of my chest with so much binary code over it––I mean you can see that it’s tits, but it’s glitched out so much that it’s not even a picture. And it’s definitely not porn. But I managed to start a new account.
Have you censored yourself as a result of that?
I have to be careful, but I still express myself in every aspect. Many people think we post our naked bodies just to get likes, or because we’re exhibitionists. But I like the human body, especially the female form, because I think it’s a harmonic, balanced piece of art. And I don’t care about how sexualized it is. Also, sex is part of people’s lives, and a lot can be expressed through it. It’s just reality––I’m not aiming to show people that I look good or don’t.
What do you want people take from your work?
That you can make whatever you want in whatever order, using all kinds of tools and subjects, and you never have to believe in boundaries or trends. The only purpose of art is to be completely free.