The Atkinson in Southport is working with guest curator and artist Nahem Shoa to present The Unselfish Selfie.
Alongside historic self-portraits, the exhibition shines a light on self-portraits by contemporary artists, who traditionally have not been given an equal voice and remained largely invisible, particularly women artists and artists of colour.
Nahem Shoa explained his approach to the exhibition as follows:
“We live in an age where social media has taken over people’s everyday life. We ‘share’ our lives with ‘friends’, most of whom we have never met, knowing these ‘friends’ around the world only through their posts and carefully composed self-images.
The billions of selfies made every day reveal almost nothing about the person who has taken then, as each person uses a set of clichéd poses, copied from fashion, TV and gossip magazines. From America to China you will see people taking almost exactly the same kind of stylized photo of themselves. In fact the modern selfie is a form of group vanity that has never been seen on this scale in the history of the world.”
In contrast the artists in The Unselfish Selfie don’t use clichéd poses. They are caught in the process of self-examination, confronting their own frailties and their own mortality. Others use their own image to explore the big issues of today, such as identity, diversity and gender.
Throughout the history of art numerous artists have made self-portraits. Originally many of these represented the artist in the act of painting. They were a means of advertising the artist’s skill. The Unselfish Selfie charts the development of the self-portrait as a much more expressive medium, employed by artists to explore the human condition, painting themselves with unflattering honesty and creating images that evoke a sense of our shared humanity.
The Unselfish Selfie is supported by the Ruth Borchard Collection, a unique collection of 100 self-portraits.