A Museum Show That Welcomes Selfies

Lisa Anne Auerbach's photo 'Take this Knitting Machine and Shove It' (Photo: Courtesy of Lisa Anne Auerbach and and Gavlak Gallery and LACMA)

Museums around the world are split on the selfie, often banning selfie sticks -- fearing the damage that a careless, self-absorbed patron might cause to the artwork -- but encouraging hand-held selfies to entice Instagram-happy millennials. Now comes an exhibit that encourages a more creative approach. This is Not a Selfie, running through Jan. 14 at the San Jose Museum of Art , features artists who played with self-portraits long before “selfie” was ever a word: Cindy Sherman, William Wegman, Diane Arbus and many more.

Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Self-Portrait in Indian Costume, circa 1863 Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) Self-Portrait in Indian Costume, circa 1863 Albumen silver print 6 1/8 x 4 1/16 inches Los Angeles County of Art photo @ Museum Associates/LACMA
Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon), Self-Portrait in Indian Costume, circa 1863 Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) Self-Portrait in Indian Costume, circa 1863 Albumen silver print 6 1/8 x 4 1/16 inches Los Angeles County of Art photo @ Museum Associates/LACMA

San Jose Museum Associate Curator Rory Padeken notes that the photographers in the show generally created self-portraits that are not a reflection of who they are but how they think about the world. “It moves beyond the artist as the self to talk about things like politics or about gender identity. The artists are sort of using their body to talk about the larger social issues of our time.“ Yet even as the show celebrates these thoughtful self-portraits, it offers a couple of selfie stations where visitors can make their own self-portraits, post them on Instagram, and get them displayed in the exhibit. Art-making has never been this easy. Details here.

 

Cy's selfie at the San Jose Museum of Art show 'This is Not a Selfie'
Cy's selfie at the San Jose Museum of Art show 'This is Not a Selfie' (Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED)

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