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Photography Finnian Croy

Juergen Teller and Tracey Emin pick their favourite selfies

The artists were among a panel that chose the winners of the #SaatchiSelfie competition

Think your selfie is a piece of art? Obviously. On March 31, the world’s first exhibition dedicated to the selfie, From Selfie to Self-Expression, will open at the Saatchi Gallery. To coincide with the beginning of the exhibition, an open competition for selfies that could be exhibited was held from January 23 until March 12.

The photos were judged by a panel that included Juergen Teller, Tracey Emin, Juno Calypso, Idris Khan, and Nigel Hurst, the CEO of the gallery. Over 8,000 pieces were submitted, but only 10 finalists have been chosen; the overall winner of which was Dawn Woolley with her piece entitled, “The Substitute (Holiday)”. Woolley will be sent on an international photoshoot assignment with a Leica Photography Ambassador, and finalists’ photos will all be displayed in the exhibition.

From Selfie to Self-Expression aims to celebrate the selfie as a legitimate artform, and the smartphone as a medium. The show will be split into four sections: “the history of the Selfie from the Old Masters to present day”, “Iconic selfies from beautiful and sublime to the mad bad and dangerous”, “UGC and interactive artworks and #SaatchiSelfie competition”, and “Self-Expression”. It’s the final section that will feature the winning selfies from the competition, and the others will look at iconic selfies through time, from oil paintings to the present day.

While it’s a perhaps progressive and interesting move to celebrate selfies as an art form, it potentially raises further issues on the misogyny and elitism that already surrounds discussions of the selfie; are selfies only valid or interesting when they are elaborately staged and have a deeper meaning? Is there still any validity in the photos non-artists (especially women) take of themselves every day? By only celebrating selfies that have become art, you run the risk of furthering the divide between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture rather than actually challenging perceptions. 

h/t Artnet News