From Selfie To Self-expression at Saatchi Gallery
London, 23 June, 2017
Before visiting an exhibition called “From Selfie To Self-expression”, we thought selfie was an easy, unworthy art form and more like a kind of showing off publicity. Furthermore, it took four actions –front camera, fake facial expression, click and Photoshop, as well as less than five minutes to create a selfie on a mobile phone. Perhaps a million selfies are produced each day and they appear to be mindless actives in our daily lives. We considered if selfies could really be art, can they be taken seriously by smartphone? The exhibition at Saatchi Gallery is attempting to explore them in their way.
The exhibition opens with some of the most remarkable self- portraits ever made by artists, including Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Diego Velázquez and so on. The artworks are displayed digitally on screens. Moreover, they are interactive so people can vote for the ones which they like, as people would on social networks.
According to the images, we realize the history of selfie, tracing back to the 16th century. During the period, only nobility could had their own portraits because of status and wealth, or some of the artists were too poor to offer a model, so they had to draw themselves.
In comparison with traditional portraits, aims and publicities of contemporary self -portraits and selfies completely go through a different way. The twentieth-century generation focuses more on exposing weaknesses and unfairness of society, self-expression and recoding superiors moment. With the advances in smartphones and social media platforms, people gain new possibilities to communicate with people who have the same interests and it can control their own publicity. Representative artists are Cindy Sherman, Juan Pablo Echeverri, etc. Firstly, Cindy Sherman created a series of self-portraits, which expressed old Hollywood film style about women. In addition, an artwork called “Miss Fotojapón” by Juan Pablo Echeverri is challenging than others. He visited a booth every day with different styling and took a passport style portrait of himself, beginning in 2000. Jean Pigozzi documented his career by taking selfies with celebrities and Aaron has become famous by taking selfies with sharks and sharing online.
Yet, there remains some doubt as to whether selfies can constitute a piece of art. The answer to the question is that everything can be art if it can have strong belief and coherency to transfer by an artist. In addition, there are enough people and high-level critics agree that the artwork is art and also like it. For example, through Saatchi Selfie Competition, a panel of celebrated artists judged selfies. And then the selfies of the shortlist are showcase at the gallery. The process is defined as art. We think that’s a main gal of the competition. While, someone might ask that there is some people take selfies in order to show-off how rich and sexy they are; is this type of selfies can be art? Indeed, they capture viewers’ attentions and then the consequent discussion push they become famous. However, those types of selfies only can be defined as their own recode, cannot have a significant effect. But the art world cannot ignore the power of social media and this phenomenon which people become addicted to selfies.
Overall, through the exhibition, we more realize how significant selfies are, and it leads us to consider about new phenomenon that change a relationship between selfies and social media since the start of the 21th century.