Imagine entering a gallery and feeling as though you were experiencing a kind of tridimensional Instagram. Selfies are exposed everywhere on large digital screens but not the kind of picture that one would expect. In fact, they are the chef d’oeuvres of the past couple of centuries, painted portraits of such personnages as Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh or Picasso. Each of them appears and disappears quickly, together with their rating, in form of a number of ‘hearts’.
Next to each screen is carefully positioned a Huawei smartphone with the identical high-definition portrait, where visitors are invited to click in order to vote for their favourites. A carefully chosen smart partnership between the number one gallery on social media in the world and the Chinese giant of the devices behind the origin of modern day selfies.
After this introductory room, you can also expect a digital version of some of the stars from the contemporary art scene, including Tracey Emin, Cindy Sherman or Andy Warhol.
Next are the selfies one would expect to see, the kind where you hold your phone in front of your face and smile wide at the camera. Among this category, one can find celebrity photobombs or politicians taking selfies with their supporters.
In one of the final rooms, visitors are able to see the top finalists of the grand Saatchi contest, calling for selfies from all around the world. There are quite a few interesting takes on the topic, from Russian to Belgian or British photographers. In case the participant’s shot did not make it to the final (a vast majority are quite basic selfies), you might be able to spot your face circulating around the wall, together with hundreds of others.
Finally, a few promising young British artists close up the exhibition with their pieces. Below are those that caught my attention.
Overall, the exhibition is very interactive and audience friendly: rooms with cameras detecting your faces and original mirrors made of textile materials are sure to keep the visitors engaged, taking selfies themselves.
While presenting us face to face with a phenomenon we are all familiar with, in the 21st century, the exhibition makes us reflect upon our societal narcissism and individualism in all forms and shapes.
The exhibition is on until May 30th, 2017.