Millennials – the first generation to grow up in the Internet age – are expected to take more than 25,000 selfies in their lifetime: close to one per day. As The Guardian reports, images tagged as #selfie began appearing on Flickr as early as 2004, and went viral with the iPhone 4’s front facing camera in 2010.
Featured here is the we need a face [?] series by Swiss-born Cristina Rizzi Guelfi. It plays on a “widespread obsession” with selfies, which, according to the artist, have become “a storytelling tool”, giving us the opportunity to show ourselves to the world exactly in the way we want to be seen.
Guelfi discovered photography by chance after obtaining a Master’s degree in directing. Since then, the self-taught artist has been building a bizarre and compelling visual universe – inhabited by a multitude of different characters. Here, Guelfi replaces subjects’ faces with 1950s and 1960s US archive photos.
The resulting shots are at once real and fantastic, asking: how much can we really glean from a picture? In an era of retouching and filters, it can be hard to distinguish truth from fiction. Through vintage aesthetics, Guelfi holds up a mirror to the unreality of what we might see on social media.
Above all, we need a face [?] is sprinkled with humour, nostalgia and satire. It’s a series of pictures about pictures. In one scene, a woman floats in a bowl of cereal, holding a phone to her ear. Elsewhere, a character holds up binoculars to her face – as if spying on a suburban neighbour.
Words: Eleanor Sutherland
All images courtesy Cristina Rizzi Guelfi.