Progressive Ideas

From Selfie to Self-Expression, presented by Huawei and Saatchi Gallery, London, is the world’s first exhibition to investigate the history and rapidly evolving future of the selfie. Now a recognisable word that appears in the Oxford dictionary, the act has since become an immeasurably popular gesture that has taken over culture, and in turn, daily life. Through the use of readily accessible social media and smartphones, taking pictures of oneself is now a medium under speculation – its value undermined by a sheer mass of content. Both the general public and the arts industry is forced to ask how we can distinguish between a self-portrait and a snapshot, and where the line is drawn between a work of fine art and a self-affirming act.

Saatchi is celebrating the creative potential of the form, asking these fundamental questions with a showcase of key pieces from Christopher Baker, Juno Calypso, Tracey Emin, Van Gogh, Mohau Modisakeng, Rembrandt, Cindy Sherman and Rafael Lozano-Hemmerand Velazquez. Alongside plans for the show, the gallery launched the #SaatchiSelfie competition on 23 January, calling for thousands of photographs to be submitted in order to engage with the newly found method. As CEO Nigel Hurst states: “To date we’ve received more than 8000 submissions from over 100 countries. The entries have approached the creative challenge we set, and lived up to the spirit of the exhibition that their work will be part of.”

As a continuation of the festivities around this fundamental event, a list of critically acclaimed judges has now been announced, one that will sift through the volume of selfies and select 10 shortlisted pieces. These international contemporaries include Tracey Emin, Idris Khan, Juergen Teller and Juno Calypso, whose intimate and investigative The Honeymoon Suite (2015) has been recently labelled “The Ultimate Selfie.”

In addition to having their photography showcased at the gallery as part of the exhibition, all shortlistees also receive Huawei’s new P10 smartphone. The overall winner, announced on 30 March, receives a special accolade with a world-renowned Leica photography ambassador.

The competition closes on 12 March. For more information:

1. Juno Calypso, The Honeymoon Suite (2015). Courtesy of the artist and Saatchi Gallery.