At the Saatchi gallery, I was a little unsure if this exhibition would suit me as I’m not a huge selfie taker or have much interest in photographs in a gallery, I find more inspiration from art works and installations. Though I saw online it was only open the day I had free and was going to London anyway for Simrin’s singing workshop,I wanted the experience of going to a gallery on my own as before I’ve always been with someone else. I get really immersed in art and take my sketchbook to write notes or draw, I wrote it out on my Living List which I wrote about here.
The first room I walked into I saw three Frida Kahlo paintings and though ‘Ah, I have arrived!’ though they were set out a little differently than a regular gallery wall as they had cleverly been displayed as art on a digital screen you can tap the heart to ‘like’ it and add to the thousands of likes. This is art in the digital age, look at for one minute and like, like, like.
Other rooms that were based around technology was Gallery 3 that had each large wall covered with thumbnails of people, no sound, as if talking to another through their webcam. It was really interesting and hypnotic as you looked at each person and the expression each person had was different. Some sad, angry, happy, confused – many emotions! This is what I like about the Saatchi, though it didn’t compare to other exhibitions such as Richard Wilson’s oil room, they fill entire rooms with a new experience for an art viewer. Another room was full of CCTV cameras and you got to see what it was like to view yourself as if you were the person also watching the cameras.
The other rooms had a mixture of selfies, from the first one taken in 1920 to the first ever animal selfie in 2011 and more recent selfies too. Here I learnt of a fairground attraction ‘The photo shooting gallery’ where someone who successfully shot at a bulls eye would have their photo taken of them in action.There were celebrity selfies but the ones I liked the most had a story to them such as roof toppers, scuba divers with sharks and pilots flying their plane. Irvan Agote’s All my girlfriends made me smile, as it’s such a simple concept that done over and over again is fun and creative.
A small project can go a long way! Alison Jackson’s staged celebrity lookalikes made me laugh out loud, cleverly done! Even easy to do projects such as Nina Katchdourich’s photos taken in lavatories on planes are strange and creative, she has over 25,000 photos which all started from a simple idea.
There was some bigger art and 3D works too, Juno Calypso’s honey moon suit project was interesting, where in 2015 she posed as a travel writer and took video and photos of herself moving in from of a mirror in luxury honeymoon suits. I liked Charlotte Colbert’s break down of features with eyes that blinked too.
My favourite 3D pieces were by Daniel Rozin and Sue Webster. Rozin had constructed a wall of pom poms that with created silhouettes with built in computer vision controlled by hundreds of motors. As you stood in front of it and moved, the pom poms made a black silhouette of any pose you made.
Sue Webster had mummified dead animals, frogs mostly (stay with me here) in silver and placed them on a stand, the light projected onto it formed two heads as a shadow on the wall, what you saw did not equal the shadow you expected!
I felt a little over whelmed near the end, especially from the celebrity selfies, I questioned whether it was about self expression like the fabulous Frida Kahlo’s self portraits or was it an obsession of people pouting on camera with a ‘look at me’ energy.
I found Hannah Starkey’s series Calling out to all female self aficionados very refreshing, with a selection of shots of women taking selfies in a playful way, each person said a paragraph about their selfies being empowering our individuality, imperfections and confidence boosting.
After viewing the gallery I had some time to spare before heading to Nottinghill for a Kirtan singing workshop with the incredible singer Simrit Kaur, I bought a samosa from a tube station and sat in Holland park by the palm trees, drawing in my sketch book. Here I saw friends and couples come into the park, one sweet young couple came and took selfies of each other then the I noticed the girl continue to take photos of herself, she was dressed up in a red dress and taking selfies from all angels. Was it out of vanity? Love for herself? Love in the moment? Boredom? A feeling great vibe? Self expression? Or self obsession? Who knows.
We all take photos and selfies for a whole variety of reasons, I want a memento from the day or to use in a project or post. As comfortable as I feel on camera, I do think that a selfie with text that someone may get some value from is more useful, though an interesting selfie may be of inspiration to others in some way.
It has left me feeling inspired to think up and stick to my own ongoing projects, whether it be photos, painting or drawing I’m not sure. I love recording moments in my life, so maybe it will be themed around that. I also feel more empowered to use my camera and skills creatively, like those images in the selfie competition, such as an image of someone walking in the park with a mirror showing their face, simple yet effective.
‘Life is only possible where life can exist – Debora De Haes – shortlist entry from Selfie competition
The Saatchi gallery is a free art gallery a short walk from Sloane Square tube station, there are 10 gallery rooms which hold different exhibitions of 2D and 3D art throughout the year. This May the theme was Selfie to Self Expression and it has been extended till the end of June 2017.