Can selfies be art?

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A selfie in the club, train station or on the plane. Millions are taken every day by people from all over the world. The word selfie goes hand in hand with words like mobile phone. For some, selfies provide an imprint of a precious memory. Some selfies were even taken minutes before the photographer died.

For example, 43-year-old Jenni Rivera, a sing and songwriter in Latin America, died in a plane crash shortly after taking a selfie with her friends.

Jenni Rivera, right before she died. Source- likes.com
Jenni Rivera, right before she died. Source- likes.com

Some selfies can tell interesting stories or are simply beautiful, which is why the Saatchi Gallery and phone brand Huawei banded together for an art competition involving selfies. The winners were announced March 30th, and can now be viewed in a unique art exhibition in the Saatchi Gallery and on their website.

Architecture student Rick Barnsly, 24, said: “I think selfies can be art, it all depends with which intention the picture is taken. Art can be found in normal, everyday things and selfies are not an exception. Of course, pictures taken in a local Costa of a 15-year-old girl and her coffee isn’t art.”

Selfies are a relatively new phenome to the public, widely introduced when front cameras were added to mobile phones. A selfie is an easy way to capture an emotion or an event where the person taking the picture is in the centre of the shot.

Space selfie taken by astronaut Aki Hoshide
Space selfie taken by astronaut Aki Hoshide

Nigel Hurst, chief executive officer at the Saatchi Gallery told the BBC: “In many ways, the selfie represents the epitome of contemporary culture’s transition into a highly-digitalised and technologically-advanced age as mobile-phone technology has caught up with the camera.”

There is an argument going on in the art community about who took the first selfie. Photographer Ed van der Elsken proclaims that he took the very first one back in 1954.

The first selfie
The first selfie

Normally, selfies require minimal effort – it’s as simple as aiming the camera in the right way and smiling. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a booming business around the photography style.

Popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook are full of selfies, and a fair share of users are even able to make a living taking them. They often pose with products like fitness supplies or clothes and share them with their followers.

Art and photography go hand in hand with creating the extraordinary out of the ordinary. The entries for the Saatchi Gallery prove that with none of the winners being “normal” selfies, instead including unusual angles, props, and even a colourised view.

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