Selfies With Art: A Special Place In Hell

Last summer, my wife and I visited the MoMA for the first time.We were both so excited as we went through the doors and stood in the wrong line. We were having such a great time that we don’t even notice for several minutes. We did finally get in the proper line, paid our fee and entered. The first few rooms were great. Not too many people. Then as we moved into the rooms with more famous works, it slowly began to happen.

So many people were taking photos that it was quite difficult to get a good view of some pieces. I had to stand my ground a few times and quite possibly wound up in some peoples photos. In fact, many people seemed to be viewing the art exclusively through the viewfinder and only long enough to get a photo. There was a lack of critical viewing and basking in the wonderment of these pieces. Why do people feel the need for visual proof? Why do people feel the need to collect photos of art? Especially when many of these pieces are well documented in photo form, in books that we have been looking at all our lives! At the museum, we can all stand directly in front of them. Free to view them in the round and from different angles. Able to get right up next to a Pollock and see how far the paint hangs off the canvas. Yet these people would shoot one photo from six to ten feet away and move on to the next piece.

Then there were the absolute worst. The scum of the earth, selfie people. A line had formed at The Starry Night so people could get their picture with it. Luckily it was only a few people deep. I let them have there shot. Once the camera dropped I made my move to get close to the painting. I looked at my wife and jerked my head for her to come on up and have a look. I remembered some wise words about getting seats at a hockey game “Get there first, put your elbows on the armrests and don’t fucking move them.” I guess the same practice can be applied to art museums. Now I sincerely believe, there is a special place in hell for people who take selfies with art.

2 Comment

  1. Loved this post. I was in NYC a few years ago and experienced the same thing. I much preferred sitting and staring at a Vermeer while getting lost in the light. People visually document everything these days it seems, yet rarely truly see anything anymore. The irony is not lost on me. Great post!

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