by Allicette Torres
The naked selfie is quickly becoming the currency of personal connection and expression between people in certain aspects of the public self. Purposefully excluding the one identifying maker of a self portrait, the head; a naked selfie is a nude self-portrait typically taken with a camera phone.
To see the velocity of the selfie propagation, all you would need to do is search the Internet or use a social networking ‘dating’ app like Grindr or Tingle on your mobile phone. With the heavy volume of pictorial content today, is there any possibility for the selfie to become the Andy Warhol-esque fifteen minutes of fame and thus become art in itself? A pseudo-unintentional performance piece of art perhaps? I posed the question to a series of photographers for their thoughts on the nude selfie.
Jordana Kalman, Photographer
“In order to discuss selfies as art, first I would have to define art and also selfies. Generally, one can say that art can be anything you want it to be, but being that I owe $100K in student loans from training in art school, I don’t buy into that. For me, art is something aesthetically pleasing made by someone with an emotional intent so that it has a lasting effect on the viewer. If a work is not aesthetically pleasant, then it must be very strong conceptually or have humor in it. I define a selfie as a picture of oneself taken with a camera phone in order to post on a social media website.
According to these definitions, I don’t consider selfies to be art. An anonymous penis picture is pretty useless; what’s the point unless you know who it belongs to or are shocked by male anatomy? Of course, there’s always someone who will hang penis pictures up on a gallery wall and declare it art, but for me, selfies remain a form of social media vernacular.”
Dave Rudin, Photographer
“I have to begin by saying that any creative endeavor can be considered art, be it composing a new tune on a piano, writing a poem or a screenplay, a child scribbling with crayons, a painter creating a picture or someone with a camera taking a “nude selfie.” Of course, there can be different types of nude selfies; from something as simple as holding a camera at arm’s length and pointing it at oneself, or taking a photograph of oneself in a mirror, to something as elaborate as a camera set on a tripod and activated by a timer with an elaborate lighting setup all around.
I don’t think it really makes a difference if a photographer’s subject matter is another person (or no person at all) or oneself. Artists have been creating self-portraits for many years. The series of these done by Rembrandt through the course of his lifetime is probably one of the greatest series of paintings ever made. I’ve also seen nude self-portrait photographs that are outstanding.
So yes, nude selfies can be considered art. The next question, though, must be asked of these as it must be asked of all creative activity: Is it good art?”
Djuna Escudero, Photographer
“Can a mass of photographs be considered art without any context? I don’t believe so. Could there be a potential for nude selfies to be art? Of course! And not because of that lame ass response milquetoast people like to declare, “Everything is art.”
I believe that what makes art is the intent an artist places on ideas and how they are executed. For example, the pictures could be utilized as a device to question society’s need “to be seen and validated”. They could be used to demonstrate hive thinking or even the desensitizing of the nude being offensive, a type of a mass acceptance of nudity. In these examples all the selfies become art, but not until an artist pulls them together and assigns them meaning.” ‡