The National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennial has concluded its biggest free summer show making history with over one million visitors.
Through its celebration of contemporary art, the exhibition offered visitors an opportunity to look at the world through the eyes of creative minds… and to take selfies.
Yayoi Kusama’s “Flower Obsession” was one of the biggest attractions at the exhibition. Kusama recreated a furnished domestic space inviting visitors to place the same flowers represented on the floral table cloth to the walls. Each visitor was given a little red flower before entering the showroom to place anywhere in the room eventually covering the entire surface of the display.
After waiting in seemingly endless queues between bodies of eager visitors, I was granted entry to the flower wonderland.
Upon entry, crowds of people rushed passed on the hunt for the perfect Instagram photo skipping the artistic critique process. Lines were formed towards picture perfect corners of the room as people posed in front of the floral wall.
Amongst the crowd was Chazper, 22, who believes social media is a distraction from critically thinking about art because “no one viewed it as a piece of art work, rather than a place to take a pretty picture.”
“But if they put that much effort in introducing the exhibit and saying to tag and give credit to the artist I guess everyone expected this outcome”, he said.
The desperation to post a photo on Instagram illustrates how social media has influenced our behaviour. The constant need of publicly announcing your whereabouts had one visitor admit he “uploaded a lot of images onto his Instagram story to show everyone I was here.”
“Everybody does it. I am sure many people found out about the exhibition through social media”, says Daniel, 23.
With social media playing a significant role in how people view exhibitions, walking through the space without imagining Instagram backdrops is not easy.
In a TED Talk on “Art in the Age of Instagram”, Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum of New York Jia Jia Fei emphasises on the bigger crowds flooding museums since the launch of the app.
“When you think of the very ‘Instagrammable’ exhibitions of the last five years, you think of Yayoi Kusama and her Infinity Mirrored Room… and then artists like James Turrell or the Rain Room at MoMA.”
“These are artists who really have very critical bodies of work, but [created installations] that have taken on new meaning because of social media.”