The Sideshow

National #Selfie Portrait Gallery opens in London

The Sideshow
'National #Selfie Portrait Gallery' opens in London
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Jesse Darling "selfie". (Courtesy Jesse Darling)

Consider the selfie. Is it art? Is it a harmless act of narcissism? Is it both?

Those who visit the National Selfie Gallery in London will have the opportunity to decide for themselves.

As curated by Kyle Chayka and Marina Galperina, the gallery, opening this week at London's Moving Image Contemporary Art Fair, will feature short self-shot short-form videos from 19 artists from Europe and the U.S.

Lest you think the selfie is a relatively new (and, perhaps, annoying) phenomenon, the Moving Image site points out that "self-portraiture has a long artistic heritage." Think Rembrandt van Rijn, Vincent van Gogh, Stanley Kubrick, Chuck Close.

Now, though, with the tremendous popularity of camera phones, anyone can take a selfie and post it to the Web. Whether that's good or bad depends on whom you ask.

Time magazine spoke with Chayka and Galperina about their installation. When asked to compare the selfie to the self-portrait, Chayka explained both the similarities and differences.

From Time:

"The selfie departs from self-portraiture in that the format is improvised and fast, where most self-portraiture of the past takes the form of laborious paintings. I think smartphone selfies come out of the same impulse as Rembrandt’s though — to make yourself look awesome."

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