The Self Portrait. I personally believe that the self portrait is a prime example explaining one of the issues going on in our 'pop' culture. The fact that the 'selfie' has become extremely popular is a representation of the amount of people that feel the need to express themselves, people that want to be seen. The self portrait is actually one of the most common art practices throughout history. Michelangelo, DaVinci, Picasso, Rembrandt... they all did it. As a matter of fact, in art school, it was a required assignment that we had to complete.
So why the disdain now?
As artists, we tend to take a tremendous amount of pride in our work. There was a time when artists were the true rockstars of society. Before people were sidetracked by weapons of mass distraction, there was a genuine appreciation for talent, dedication and hard work. As time passed, people learned how to exploit the arts and make money from the appreciation people had for them. The mediums by which the arts were conveyed, became more accessible and the way people were able to experience the arts grew tremendously . The respective markets became saturated and popularity replaced talent and hard work.
Artists were pretty pissed about this.
So here we are, everyone can now produce a picture, a portrait, a self portrait, but what I see is, people despising the art form. From the outside it can seem pretentious and narcissistic, but it isn't always. This is such an amazing ride we're on. The gradual changes in our body sneak up on us and often, we are shocked at what we see of 'ourselves'. Living inside this vehicle but not feeling all the changes that happen. Seeing the wrinkles form, the nose grow crooked, the hair growing in... or falling out. How could one NOT be fascinated. How could you not document this.
I think the issue started when the self portrait went to the shitter. Literally! Once people took the self portrait in the bathroom (as a normal practice), it defiled the image, both figuratively and literally. It was no longer an art form. It was no longer an exploration of the journey, or an expression of the souls vision of the body.
But the truth is, once you look at the self portrait with disdain, it is actually you that has disregarded the art in it. Irrespective of how or where one does it, it is still a documentation, an exploration of the journey of one's life. I have heard many people say they "refuse to take a selfie" or that they feel it is all about conceit. But what about those that take it for themselves? Whether they share it or not. Ultimately, it is for the self. So that people can experience you as you do. So that you get a chance to see yourself as others do. So that you can see yourself, as you were once.
Our entire culture has been given the opportunity to be celebrated. To knock that celebration only truly affects you. If you do not want to see excessive "Selfies" it is as simple as not looking. Do not subscribe to the things that you do not want to see. It's pretty simple. But to criticize the art form, to criticize an artist or one who is exploring and documenting their journey is more damaging to you than it is to them.
Harboring hate for someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
Love your self.