Interviews

Instagram Photos Reappear on the Streets Where They Were Taken

Photo by @lastsuspect at Second Avenue and 1st Street
Photo by @lastsuspect pasted at Second Avenue and 1st Street (all photos courtesy Get Up NY)

What if instead of only showing up online, your Instagram photos of sunsets, street art, photogenic cityscapes, or alluring strangers on subway platforms were posted back into New York City’s public spaces? That’s precisely what Get Up NY, a participatory street art campaign that’s started cropping up all over Manhattan, aims to do.

The group — whose members have opted to remain anonymous, as their work isn’t exactly legal — makes posters of images posted on Instagram with the hashtag #GetUpNY, often wheatpasting the printouts in places that are poignant, aesthetically resonant, or near where the original photo was taken. Hyperallergic got in touch with the creators of Get Up NY to ask them a few questions about the offbeat project.

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Photo by @tico.aa pasted at Jersey and Lafayette streets
Photo by @tico.aa pasted at Jersey and Lafayette streets

Benjamin Sutton: In some instances the wheatpasted Instagram printouts are installed in places that correspond somehow with the photo — a puppy photo next to a “Lost Dog” poster, a photo of a subway staircase on a subway platform column, etc. How deliberate is the placement of each wheatpaste?

Get Up NY: We try to curate as much as possible, because those photos get great engagement, and also because we thought it would be funny if people Instagram photos of the Instagram, which the curation inspires people to do. It is almost like a game with our team; we try to outdo each other. That said, some of the pictures look better when they are just up on a plain wall.

Photo by @maxwellturner pasted at West 11th Street and Seventh Avenue
Photo by @maxwellturner pasted at West 11th Street and Seventh Avenue

BS: There are some art precedents for this type of work that makes digital images real (e.g. Richard Prince’s Instagram painting show) or tries to reintroduce them in the places where they were originally taken (e.g. Paolo Cirio’s Street Ghosts). Was there any particular existing project that inspired you?

GUNY: No, we’ve actually been wanting to act on this idea for about a year but were slammed with other projects. We always had a gut feeling people would be into it. There is definitely a trend, though, in wanting to create a more meta experience with this platform in particular.

We want to bring people’s art to the streets, making it accessible for everyone to see. We’re drawn to images that push boundaries and are unique. We also love that by combining their Instagrams and placing them around New York, #GetUpNY is making a completely new story and image.

Photo by @dave.krugman pasted at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street
Photo by @dave.krugman pasted at Sixth Avenue and 8th Street

BS: What has the response been like, both from people on the street and people whose photos you’ve wheatpasted?

GUNY: The feedback has been amazing. Instagramers are really excited to get their pictures wheatpasted, their friends are excited for them. It’s created an amazing feedback loop. Most people who don’t know about #GetUpNY just look at it and walk away. People who know about it get really excited. It’s creating a whole community of people in the know. We want that community to grow, both in New York and beyond.

A photo by @tedvolynets pasted at the corner of Howard and Crosby streets
A photo by @tedvolynets pasted at the corner of Howard and Crosby streets
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