This is authentic - "

Looking at other people looking at themselves


Or, in other words, putting this entire #selfie thing into an historical context that suddenly pushes the whole genre away from a general societal egotistical psychosis and towards a central part of the way human beings make sense of themselves and the world around them.

A Kaia Miller self portrai, as seen in a video as part of the show "ME" at Ricco Maresca gallery in NYC.

A Kaia Miller self portrai, as seen in a video as part of the show “ME” at ricco Maresca in NYC.

My friend Emily told me that her 12 year old daughter Kaia was going to be featured n a photography exhibit at Rico Maresca gallery in Chelsea. I looked at her Instagram (@growingrainbows) and was intrigued, but I have been growing increasingly skeptical of the constant flow of selfies and the apparent myopic obsession with ourselves that they seem to represent, so, to be honest, I was also a bit worried about what kind of person Kaia was growing into.

But I love Emily and I dutifully went to check out her kid’s work, just like I’d like my friends to look at my kid’s stuff if and when the time ever comes. And as I read the press release and looked around at the other work in the show, I was suddenly able to see that some of today’s selfies really are a part of an evolving body of work that is well worth checking out, sitting with, and mulling over.

Kaia Miller’s work is presented as a video, played on an iPad, in which the artist talks about the motivations behind each of her photographs. The images are for sale, but the only way to view them is via this video. And I found myself glued to the screen, curious about how she manipulated some of the images, impressed by her thoughtfulness, and captivated by the parallel universe digital fairy world she has created. I might not want to live there, but it’d be a nice place for an expedition-style vacation.

The show also includes Photomatic images from the 1940′s, and other surreal self portraits from artists like André Kertész and Berenice Abbott. Some images are familiar, while some I’ve never seen before. But they are all evidence of people grappling with self and self image and their place in the world.

self prtrait with gorilla mask soji Ueda

Self portrait with gorilla mask (1975) has always been one of my favorite images by Shoji Ueda.

It’s a show well worth seeing… but tomorrow is the last day, so hop to it. If you miss seeing the images live, there is always the gallery website, and a lovely piece by Adam Gopnik in the New Yorker that you can peruse at your leisure.

Photographic Self Portraits
Through October 31 2015
Ricco Maresca Gallery
529 W 20th Street, third floor

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