instagram & the gallery experience

Okay so I recently watched this video because it came up on my recommended page on Youtube…I know it’s by Vox but still

You might want to give it a watch though before you read on because I’ll be discussing some of the main points raised…


Okay so first off the bat…I really don’t like the idea of art, rather than being about the concept, being purely aesthetic. I can’t really articulate why I’m so against this idea..other than the fact that most of my favourite art isn’t aesthetically pleasing, but I like it because it conveys a specific idea or emotion that I feel in some way attached to. If art were purely aesthetic…you may as well call flowers art, or wallpaper, or literally anything else you use to decorate your home. Lets look at an example – Soutine’s 1925 ‘Carcasse de Boeuf’. This is not an aesthetically pleasing piece of art, and I don’t see people queuing up to get a selfie next to it. Equally I wouldn’t want this in my home, because it’d probably be quite a jarring thing to wake up to. However, I really like this painting and always have, it’s vivid and conveys a kind of aggression and violence. It’d prefer this over something that’s aesthetically pleasing but emotionally empty anyday. It makes me kind of sad thinking that all these people would pay $40 to go somewhere, with the explicit intention of snapping photos for instagram? I’d just like to add that I’m not pretentious and stuffy, I don’t think art has to be a painting on the wall for it to be worth calling ‘art’, I think immersive art can be great…but it’s a technique that has to be used when necessary I think. The concept has to call for it to be immersive, rather than just being immersive for the sake of it or for the novelty?


Museum attendance…so obviously if you have a great looking exhibit and it’s plastered all over social media, your attendance will increase. This means possibly more donations, more money spent in gift stops/museum cafes, and maybe the people who turn up to see a specific piece will go and explore a little to see other pieces. In theory, yeah sure this is great. In practise? I feel like even though attendance might be up, it’s kind of empty…people aren’t critically engaging with the work, they’ll take their pictures and then go. Think of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre…how many people go JUST to see this one painting and then turn around and walk out? The same applies to this ‘instagrammable exhibits’ – how many people go specifically for that piece and then leave?


And the point is made that it’s been shown that photo taking detracts from the gallery experience. I have first-hand experience with this point – I’ve been to several galleries, and gone specifically with the intent of gathering content for Crop Up’s feed, and I will always leave these exhibitions not really having felt anything, other than that I’ve achieved the task I set out to. Granted when I go to see an exhibition for pleasure, I will take photos then too – but I’m taking photos of pieces that I genuinely love, and they end up on my personal instagram, so that I can revisit them whenever I want – it’s a very different game. And this is probably terrible coming from an art history student, but even in a gallery space, I often find it hard to engage with pieces because it’s too busy and I’m distracted by what’s going on around me, or am thinking about what other people are doing, or what they’re thinking of me, so the additional distraction of social media can be a bit of a nightmare. And it makes me really sad when I go to the Tate or something, and I see people posing with art, and I know they haven’t even attempted to think about the piece (at least I try even if I can’t always manage it) – it’s just instagram bait.


I definitely think galleries will need to change with the times…but I’m not sure this is the answer? I don’t want the nature of art to change to become something so empty.


Anyway, that’s all folks.

Remember as always to check out our instagram (hahaha, oh lord I can’t believe I’m writing this after making all those points) for daily content, our spotify for monthly playlists and our blog for a random post every now and then!


Written by Emily Stokes @em_jst

Featured Image courtesy of Trend





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