Don’t worry - the exhibit won’t be blaring the hit song #selfie by The Chainsmokers with air-head teenagers blowin' bubble gum and discussing the latest episode of 'Keeping up with the Karadashians". Instead this “selfie” exhibit is meant to reveal the psychosocial reasons behind these ever so common self-photographs.
Who would’ve thought there could be any depth to the vacuous idea of a selfie? Just the term conjures images of self-absorbed celebrities pouting for their iPhone in 35 different angles. Photographer Liu Zheng has, for the past 6 months, been inviting people to submit their ‘selfies’ to him (in case you’ve been living under a rock, a selfie is a self-taken photograph usually on a cell phone or a digicam used commonly by young people). He then chose the most interesting and diverse selfies, usually ones involving nudity.
From the photos presented, we see that most participants are young people who have diverse interests and come from a wide variety of backgrounds. There are also couples, pregnant women, gay men, and breast-feeding mothers. In the process of photographing themselves and often their naked bodies, they reveal their innermost private sensual self, sharing it freely with the public.
A selfie enables people to express themselves in many ways, to feel reaffirmed and to prove their uniqueness in the world. A seemingly simple selfie contains a wide variety of complicated motives and deep psychosocial elements including - but not limited to - narcissism, exhibitionism and voyeurism.
We sit down with Liu Zheng and ask him what his motives are behind his series “selfies”. To Zheng, a selfie is far more than just narcissism. It reveals a persons relationship with life, their living conditions and how they interact with their world. It is where photography combines self-expression and self discovery, a selfie is a way to feel connected to a world that is becoming more and more disconnected.
As a photographer, Liu Zheng, appears rather disengaged with his selfie series. We ask if he feels China is pulling further away from a collectivist society and instead into a more individualized, narcissistic one through the use of selfies. He simply shrugs his shoulders, “I never really thought about that. I just find selfies interesting. I’m just a platform for people to… perform.”
According Liu Zheng, “a selfie has always been around. Before smart phones, an artist would paint or draw themselves. A selfie is just a newer form of self-expression that has simply evolved to fit this generation.”
Where: Pékin Fine Arts , 241 Caochangdi, Cui Ge Zhuang
When: Everyday until September 15th.