A review of the showcase of vanity that is the Saatchi Gallery’s ‘Selfie to Self-Expression’ exhibition
The first ever ‘selfie’ was supposedly taken on the roof of the Marceau studio on Fifth Avenue in New York. Featuring a photographer named Joseph Byron and his colleagues, the image was captured in December 1920 and now, an exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery examines the story of what has become a modern day social phenomenon.
Aside from images of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 American election and lookalikes of the British royal family by Alison Jackson, this exhibition – sponsored rather appropriately by a mobile phone manufacturer plainly desperate to get its product into the public eye in England named Huawei – features everything from selfies taken with selfie sticks to selfies taken underwater. It is an array of ridiculousness and most definitely a display of extreme vanity that is present here, but with opportunities for visitors to participate, it is also something that anyone except a true killjoy will have a little fun with.
The word ‘selfie’ was announced as the Oxford English Dictionary “word of the year” in 2013 and subsequently, Business Insider, published a story that referenced selfies of groups as “usies”. Huawei Technologies, it transpires, trademarked the word “groufie” around the same time and thus it’s no wonder they managed to cut a deal with the ever-so-commercial Charles Saatchi.
‘Selfie to Self-Expression’ is on display at the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s Headquarters, Kings Road, London, SW3 4RY until 30th May. The exhibition is free and open seven days a week, 10am to 6pm.