Contemporary Self-Expression

From Selfie to Self-Expression surveys one of the most iconic developments of contemporary society. Saatchi Gallery and Huawei, a leading smartphone brand, collaborated to create the world’s first exhibition documenting the history of the selfie, from its roots to increasing cultural relevance, the gallery outlines the creative potential of a form often derided for its insignificance.

Key artworks from Kutluğ Ataman, Christopher Baker, Juno Calypso, Tracey Emin, Van Gogh, Mohau Modisakeng, Rembrandt, Cindy Sherman, Gavin Turk and Velazquez place the historical next to the modern in a contemplation of identity and articulation. The concept of the self-portrait is not one that originated in this century, and forms a recurrent strand throughout history. The rise of the selfie builds on this foundation, with its development attributed to the rise of social media, its fame dating back to the early 2000s. Alongside these pieces are images that have quickly become representative of the digital era.

A commission of ten young British photographers highlights the emerging, and increasingly popular, role of the smartphone as a medium for self-expression. To shed light on the wide scope of creativity that mobile devices enable, the group use leading Huawei technology to produce their compositions for the exhibition. Furthermore, this element of From Selfie places a practice previously considered an amateur method alongside the top photographers of our time, legitimising it and repositioning the discipline as we know it. Accompanying the exhibition is the #SaatchiSelfie competition, a project open to artists, photographers and enthusiasts alike to showcase their most creative self-portraits on a global platform for self-expression.

CEO of Saatchi Gallery, Nigel Hurst comments: “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. Our commissioning of work by ten young British Photographers completes the narrative and highlights the exciting potential of the very latest technology to encourage creativity.”

From Selfie to Self-Expression, Saatchi Gallery, London, from 31 March – 30 May.

1. Cindy Sherman, Untitled Film Still #21. (Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York).