If you've ever had the pleasure of spending some time in an art museum you will notice a few things. You will notice that you are not usually permitted to touch the art, use flash photography, or make a lot of noise.
However, you probably will not notice the copious amount of self portraits that an art museum typically has on display. This is because these self portraits would not strike you as being out of the ordinary. For hundreds of years, artists have been painting, sculpting, and using a myriad of different mediums to create artistic portrayals of themselves. Whether these self portraits are as realistic as Rembrandt's or as abstract as Picasso's, they are all viewed with the same respect and appreciation by people all over the world.
To me, self portraits are unlike any other type of art. There is something powerful about artists using themselves, the people they know best, as the subject of their art. The level of introspection that is needed in order for artists to accurately depict themselves to their satisfaction is something that is not seen too often in other creative fields.
...And that is why I believe the selfie is a type of self portrait.
Before you write me off as another social-media-obsessed narcissistic teenager, hear me out.
The self portrait, while always being a factor in the art world, really became popular during the Renaissance. As many of you may know, the Renaissance was a time of "rebirth," an evolution out of the Dark Ages. Breaking away from the notion of religious shame, the Renaissance gave birth to humanism, a celebration of the mortal human rather than a supernatural figure.
I believe that no other time in the course of human history parallels the Renaissance quite like 2016. The constant development in technology resembles the explosion of art, architecture, politics, science and literature that happened in the Renaissance.
With the development of computers, mobile phones and social media, we are allowing for a wider access to the Internet and world wide communication, paving the way for collaboration in all realms of life. We are also constantly empowering humans from all different walks of life, similar to humanism in the Renaissance. Whether you are a man or a woman, white or a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ+ community or straight, society is truly progressing to help eventually bring equality to all. Admittedly, recent acts of violence have tried to discourage the progression of society. But the Renaissance wasn’t perfect either — Christopher Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen-hundred ninety two, and we all know what an asshole that guy was.
So that is why I argue a selfie, in its own right, is a self portrait. People use selfies to capture and share an image of themselves that they feel accurately depicts themselves, similar to artists during the Renaissance. It is empowering to take a good picture of yourself and put it out into the world for everyone to see. Sharing selfies on social media allows for people to break away from the media's singular portrayal of beauty, and opens society’s eyes to the true beautiful diversity the world has to offer.
So the next time you're scrolling through Instagram and you come across an account full of selfies, remember this — everyone has the right to be an artist, and everyone’s face is a perfectly viable masterpiece.
(Receiving a new tripod in the mail, I figured that there was nothing better to accompany this article than my very own selfies, erm, self portraits!)
Until next time xx