That Poppy: An elaborate piece of performance art, or marketing

For the last few months I’ve been obsessively following YouTuber and recording artist That Poppy. Her music is aggressively standard three chord Pop-music, however if you pay attention to her videos on her official Vevo channel and her secondary YouTube channel, certain things stand out. The most obvious of these “things” (for lack of a better word) is the background music in her Vlogs and the constant and ominous references to an unknown THEM or THEY. Dig deeper into iconography, stenography and symbolism and a more disturbing picture appears.

That Poppy makes continuous references to occultism, satanism and conspiracy theories. Should one go to impoppy.com and access the source code, and one is confronted with the all seeing eye, an image that is often associated with the illuminati and the new world order. Other references to this is the constant presence of triangles and eyes in several videos and images. Thus one can trace a diegetic narrative emerging, however this narrative does not occur in the surface or first level of communication presented in That Poppy’s content. Instead it is encrypted into the very fabric of both the media and distribution channels and only sporadically obliquely referenced in the message itself often through veiled references to “Them”, punishments and threats. As of today this “performance” is still ongoing and often is punctuated by the release of new musical videos which while often seemingly innocuous, continue with the narrative themes exposed in the secondary content. It is for this reason that for now this article remains as a stub, more of an invitation to experience That Poppy than a through analysis of its clever use of a distribution channel as a medium, or the exploitation of YouTube algorithms to lead the viewer to further tangential and related content that in turn lead to a second even more obscure performer (Mars Argo) also related to That Poppy but chronologically prior to Poppy.

In the end, whether “That Poppy” is performance or marketing is yet to be seen, however it does display certain characteristics of the fluxus movement and dada as well, with at least a declared distaste for capitalism (veiled under a hyper capitalist stance), internet culture, hero worship and art itself. Perhaps in a year or so my stance may have changed but to this day I believe that “That Poppy” stands as one of the most novel and ignored examples of contemporary performance art. It at least seems to have more thought put into it than this year’s Golden Lion winner: Anne Imhof’s Faust. At the very least it is Punk’s most radical deviation a confrontational pieces that offends by being inoffensive, Disneyfied and sanitized on the surface while presenting a rotten core of gore, defiance and mockery of the very people that idolize it.

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