CHICAGO — The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will begin on February 7, but the selfie olympics have already gone viral. These gold-, silver- and bronze-winning selfies show individuals displaying amazing agility in relation to the mirror. These competitors position themselves under the covers, on mattresses, grilling chicken, eating soup from the sink, biking in the tub, or snapping a photo of themselves photographing someone else on a phone in a bathroom stall.
On a more serious note, reality hits hard in this set of Lebanese protest selfies, which rebuke the notion that selfies are merely narcissistic; they are a medium that can be used to send a political message to the world.
Elsewhere in the world of selfies, Kim Kardashian may have Photoshopped her butt in a selfie because, as New York Magazine Editorial Director Stella Bugbee suggests, she is “all about manufacturing ‘reality'” — she is, well, a “kartoon.”
In our world, here are selfie submissions we’ve received from Milwaukee, Tampa Bay, Warsaw, Portland, and my very own Chicago.
Occupation: Artist and photographer
Location: Milwaukee, WI
“I took this image as a contrast to my fine art, photographic self-portraiture (which often times deals with very serious themes such as beauty, body image, and identity.) There is always a implication of selfishness when it comes to the genre, but by utilizing the hash-tagged word ‘#selfie’ as a title of sorts AND while wearing it knitted onto a sweater within the image, it not only takes that idea up a notch but also makes for one unbelievably unbearable, cringe-worthy, and ridiculously self-indulgent photograph. A true critique on today’s culture.”
Occupation: Editor at Art at Bay
Location: Tampa Bay, Florida
“I took this selfie for #GivingTuesday. In retrospect, I feel dumb for some reason for taking it. Still, I’m at least glad I got to express my appreciation for visual art and the consideration it gives selfies (despite, perhaps, the self-indulgent way of doing it.)
“I really do feel like many people consider selfies trite less because they are trite and maybe more because it’s a reflection of how they value a self image. Either way, I appreciate visual art and its writers giving selfies and their subjects due consideration.”
Occupation: Poet & Artist
Location: Warsaw, Poland
“‘Notice me. I am here. I exist. In this moment, I am real.’ Efforts to stave off loneliness when one is in fact alone, selfies represent desires to share and connect. They are both document of and testament to hope. Absent from selfies is the community, both real and imagined, that the photographer reaches out to. ‘Imaginary Friends & Family: Portraits’ includes this community in the frame as a move to say not just ‘notice me, I exist’ but, more importantly, to claim ‘I am here with you. In this moment, we are real together.’ The series was hatched in a spirit of play on my walk home late one Warsaw night in November 2013, and it can be viewed here.”
Location: Portland, OR
“These images are not technically selfies, but I chose to see them as such because of how they are manipulated. They were taken as my first Oregon state ID photo three years ago at the DMV in Portland. However, I never got that ID, because they got my birthday wrong. I never saw this picture again until last February, when it showed up in police discovery charging me with multiple misdemeanors related to a housing defense action I participated in with a group called We Are Oregon to help keep a family in a foreclosed home. It has been speculated that they used this photo and bio-metrics to recognize me in a video taken of the protest. I was charged and convicted with assault four. Since then I have scanned the photo from the photocopied discovery, which I chose to see as form of self-representation or selfie and then manipulated them using Open Office picture editor to try to render my face in different scales of irreconcilability.”
Occupation: Artist and professor
“I started taking these ‘my mother/my selfie’ images about 6 months ago. My mother is 93, lives in an assisted living facility, and suffers from dementia. We have always had a complicated relationship, and astonishingly this phenomenon is untouched by the dementia. The extremes of our relationship are very much intact. In certain ways, I still feel she knows me better than anyone else does. It is also the case that she can push my buttons better than anyone else can, leaving me simultaneously awed and pissed off.
“I have been taking these images for all kinds of reasons. The most obvious is that I am taking them while I can. We also look ridiculously alike, and I sometimes have a sense that I’m looking at present me and future me. There’s also something about taking these pictures that has added structure and order to my visits, literally giving us ‘something to do.’ That said, she does not always wish to be photographed, and this is clearly seen in many of the other ‘mother/selfie’ images. I typically get a grace period of two extra pictures, and, after that, she is done for the day. The image seen here was taken while we were both quite happy to participate.”
* * *
Email Hyperallergic your selfie at selfies [at] hyperallergic.com, along with a brief explanation of why you shot it and what it means to you.
Subscribe to the Hyperallergic newsletter!