Using Social and a Self-Pic to Start a Conversation with You
Street Artist Gilf! has been developing her work the last few months in a more conceptual direction and diversifying from straight paint on a wall. Her new online project incorporates photography, activism, online conversation, and the pinnacle of personal image promotion right now, the selfie.
And she’s hoping you’ll send her yours right now. It’s Saturday, what else is going on, laundry?
Also, you could change the world.
For Gilf! the heralded phone self portrait is more than just a way to show off your beauty mark or your biceps, it can be a way to open a conversation about a topic you care about. “This is an opportunity for people to connect with friends to discuss and brainstorm a cause or an important issue,” she says of the new art project she calls #Checkyourselfie.
Gilf! submits her own #checkyourselfie (© Gilf!)
As if you weren’t already fixing your hair and getting ready to snap, she’s sweetening the deal by offering to give you one of her prints from her 5-selfie series that she’s releasing each day next week starting Monday. “The winner will be decided on my perception of the image’s ability to facilitate dialog, its composition, and of course the level of creativity that went into it,” she says, and already she’s gotten a few that are stretching the selfie concept into personally artful directions.
See a full discussion sparked by this image from xoaoart, “Okay, so I’m usually not one to do this but I love me some @gilfnyc and I’m always up for thought provoking discussion #checkyourselfie” (http://web.stagram.com/n/xoaoart/ )
Be extreme if you want to be, suggests Gilf!, and tell everybody what you care about, and this Street Artist who has always loved social, political, and environmental activism says she’ll promote you even more. “You’ll be surprised at how many people feel the same way you do, and how good it feels to get your opinion about something important out among like-minded people,” she says.Check the end of this post for details on how to #Checkyourselfie, but first here’s Gilf! speaks with us about her project.
Brooklyn Street Art: Judy Pearshall from the Oxford Dictionary observed that the act of taking a selfie is an “essentially narcissistic enterprise.” Do you suppose the desire to share an image of your physical appearance is something more than that?
Gilf!: Absolutely. To share a selfie is a brave yet strategic move. Ultimately we don’t share things on social media if we are not seeking others’ opinions or approval. Often times I see selfies as requests for validation. As a society we are so inundated with the media telling us how we need to be thinner, hotter, and more stylish, so of course we’re all a bit insecure.
A submission to #Checkyourselfie from @Halopigg on Instagram. “I wanted to challenge myself with this photo, which is why this photo and caption were made entirely by me using my feet and toes,” he says (image © Halopigg)
Every time we get a “like” on our photos we are rewarded with a jolt of dopamine. This can make us feel better about ourselves, but it’s short lived like any other drug. It doesn’t contribute to true self worth- but actually, in my opinion, creates further need for validation from our peers. I think the need for acceptance has become highly integrated in self esteem since the advent of social media. Maybe this isn’t new but it’s far more visible and intense than ever before.
Brooklyn Street Art: Television and advertising are often accused of defining beauty standards. Would you say that the “selfie” phenomenon is redefining those standards or otherwise altering them?
Gilf!: I see the selfie as an amazing tool that can redefine our understanding of beauty. The majority of the selfies I see are reinforcing the media’s beauty standards, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. I think it’s rare to see a selfie that blatantly shows and accepts a person’s flaws. We need more of these. It’s an incredible way to use the selfie as a source of empowerment. We can choose to hold ourselves up to the unrealistic, photoshopped version of beauty or accept and own our perceived flaws as part of what makes each of us unique and beautiful.
“So #checkyourselfie is about using a selfie to create constructive dialog about things other than the self,” says Gilf!, “I don’t know how constructive this one is as an example- but it sure made me laugh!” (unattributed photo from Gilf!’s Tumblr on Jan 31)
Brooklyn Street Art: With more than 30 million Instagram photos carrying the hashtag #selfie, have we all become stars?
Gilf!: I think it’s gotten a little out of hand. It’s one thing to love ourselves, it’s another when we use social media to feed our egos. One of the questions I keep asking myself while working on #checkyourselfie is why do we have such a fascination with the self. Ultimately we can each only control our own self.
A #checkyourselfie from freelance photographer and writer Nancy Musinguzi (© Nancy Musinguzi)
The world and all it’s problems can seem so daunting on an individual level. “What can one person really do?” is a question I often hear. It’s so scary to feel helpless and ineffective. We turn our focus inward, because the self is the one thing we can control. While heavily “connected” with social media, by focusing on the self we can become disempowered, isolated individuals. It has such potential to connect us and create dialog yet social media has largely become a tool to stoke our egos.
Use your camera to create frehley: Street Artist Oh Captain My Captain (OCMC) submitted this image for #checkyourselfie (© OCMCPropaganda)
Brooklyn Street Art: You are using this project as a way to open a conversation – what do you hope we will all talk about?
Gilf!: Social media presents an incredible opportunity to create community and effect change, and I don’t think we’re harnessing its full potential yet. I want to use the selfie to create dialogs about greater issues. I’ll be using the project to discuss issues that I’m interested in like the environment, body image, and how we understand community. What I’m hoping participants will discuss are issues that are important to them. This can be a way to create new connections, bring people together, or motivate a group to actually organize or volunteer together, instead of just saying “someday”.
Street Artist Cernesto’s selfie on Instagram for #checkyourselfie (photo © @Cernesto)<<>>><<<>><>< How you can participate in #checkyourselfie right now:
To start a conversation, simply tag your image with #checkyourselfie. Your image will appear on Gilf!’s Instagram, tumblr, and twitter under her handle @gilfnyc, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gilfnyc, and her website website: www.gilfnyc.com. See her website for more details.<<>>><<<>><><
To see Gilf’s five new images in print you’ll need to go to DUMBO, Brooklyn next Thursday night at Arcilesi Homberg Fine Art . Since the artist is planning to be in attendance you can continue your conversation in person.
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