|Rembrandt's Self-portrait in a cap from 1630 is believed to be the first known "duck face."|
The exhibit, which will aim to portray the complexity of narcissistic vanity in a fast-paced, technological age, will be replacing the long-celebrated collection of Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, a seventeenth century Dutch painter known for creating over one hundred self-portraits, considered by some to be a depressingly laborious, pre-photographic study of aging.
"We're thrilled that the Metropolitan Museum of Art has agreed to host our collection of artwork," Instagram said via press release. "The 'Selfies' exhibit celebrates an autobiographical artistic expression that pushes the boundaries of what famous portraitists like Rembrandt were able to achieve, while also placing the chance to partake in a prominent art form within reach of pretty much anybody with thumbs."
The collection, which debuts this weekend with a "#selfiesunday" gala honoring influential portraitists contributing to the movement, will feature live photographic exhibitions from Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian, neither of whom have explicitly agreed to remain clothed during their performances.
Notable works to be featured in the exhibit include Girl in the Bathroom Mirror by xoTammy93, Cute Hair, Don't Care by UrBoyfriendsGF, and the controversial selfie Mo'fuckin Swole by ShitSonMahAbzGotAbz, which features a young man flexing topless in a gym locker room while an elderly, naked man in the background grabs his love handles in a dejection that captures the shattering of a fragile and shapeless self-esteem. Experts have described the juxtaposition of these two men as something ranging from "a nuanced, articulate expression of the human image" to "just another dickhead eye-fucking his own torso."
Predictably, however, the controversial announcement of the new exhibit has been met with push-back from portions of the artistic community.
"The selfie is a cry for attention, a beg for affirmation, and an exercise in narcissism which requires no talent," said Brooklyn painter Chester Nicholas in between sips of a PBR latte. "It's nothing more than a self-indulgent stroke-fest," he added while rolling up his flannel sleeve to make a flamboyant and derogatory gesture near the front of his constrictive, second-hand corduroys.
A central motif of both the exhibit and the gala will be the emergence of #selfiesunday, the internet hashtag attached to selfies taken on Sundays.
"'#sefliesunday' honors a day which brings a sense of community to smartphone self-portraitists," explained museum director Thomas P. Campbell. "It celebrates the art form and brings much-sought recognition and affirmation to the artists."
Chester Nicholas, however, disputes the idea that a day devoted to encouraging selfies was needed in an age when the internet is already shamelessly overrun by the art form. "The internet needed #selfiesunday like Penn State needed #molestationmonday," he said with horn-rimmed flippancy.
Among the exhibit's notable features--aside from raising awareness for mallard conservation--is an interactive portion where museum-goers can take selfies of themselves in front of the featured works in the gallery and subsequently post them to Instagram, thereby perpetuating the genre and trapping themselves in the seemingly inescapable redundancy of the artistic movement.
"Oh my god, I looked so fat that day," said featured self-portraitist Natasha Cooper when asked about her artistic style in a recent selfie. "I usually try to use my front-facing camera since I can watch myself make a kissy face while I take the picture and that way my lips won't look weird or anything and you can see just a little cleavage [#nogrammar]."
"I think the girls that take selfies in the mirror are sluts," Cooper added.
One of the characteristic themes of the selfie--aside from the crippling narcissism fueling the artists' creativity--is the application of sophisticated filters to accent the look and feel of the image. While some artists avoid filters, instead occupying an originalist, pre-iPhoneian niche, most selfie artists choose to apply grainy, luminance noise or unique color tints that are often avoided by classical photographers who assert that these effects represent a lack of basic photographic understanding and cause the photos to look like the Sepia Fairy took a shit on the subjects face.
"What it really comes down to is that we were hemorrhaging money," said Thomas P. Campbell. "People are so overstimulated these days that no one has any interest in examining the distinguished brushstrokes of Van Gogh; the artistic, emotional releases of Edvard Munch; or the conspicuous, connected eyebrows of Frida Kahlo."
"I think this marks a change of direction for our museum," Campbell stated. "I don't see us ever going back to our Rembrandt collection."
"Quite honestly, this will just make my life easier," he said. "I was getting real fucking sick of trying to convince people that Rembrandt was anything other than a toothpaste."