Even before front-facing cameras started appearing on phones, people posed in front of webcams and took many wild-guesses with chunky digital cameras held at arms length. Selfies have been a topic of debate for the past decade; a debate which has heated in recent years with the likes of Kim Kardashian taking it to the next level -releasing an oversized coffee-table book of her mug shots earlier this year.
Now, self-portraiture is certainly a multi-faceted subject and not something to be hastily generalised. Most people will be eager to accuse snappers of extreme self-involvement – and so what if it is true? Who said a little self-love wasn’t healthy. Studies have revealed that self-styled portraits actually help people therapeutically, to be comfortable with how they look and aware of how their identity fits into the world.
Other examples of self-portraiture making a positive change, is the hashtag #FeministSelfie, which began trending on social media in 2013 and is still used as a way for women to share images that push back on society’s expectations of beauty. By making these portraits public on social media, they force people to rethink what femininity really means – pretty cool, huh?
But, sometimes a selfie can just be a quick and easy way to communicate where you are, what you’re doing or how you’re feeling in any given moment. Whichever way you want to look at it, there are a million different arguments for and against selfie-taking, which renders it such a hot-topic for artists and intellectuals to dissect.
One event this month aims to do just that. The Art of the Selfie is a pop up show making it’s home in Old Street station from the 4th- 14th November. The event is the first of its kind in the UK, engaging the public with informative talks by the creative industry’s leading figures, tackling controversial topics such as body dysmorphia and also looking at less orthodox methods of self-representation such as painting and mark making.
Sang Bleu editor and effortlessly intellectual Central St Martin’s lecturer Reba Maybury, who will be discussing how social media effects individual’s perceptions of body image, authors one talk that caught our attention. “The selfie becomes a space for competition and self assurance.” Maybury states, talking of the hundreds of images we encounter each day.
If you’re down to feed your head, visit the pop-up at Old Street Station (there are many tunnels, but you can’t miss this one!) for Reba’s talk at 7pm on Tuesday 10th November. Other lectures and events follow, including one on Thursday 12th held by artist Hormazd Narielwalla, and an interactive portrait drawing workshop on Friday 13th.