Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Photo opportunity

Last year 'selfie' was the Oxford Dictionaries international word of the year and it looks as though Te Papa has taken the hint and finally dropped its no photography of art works policy.  Speaking directly to the people on the street the change has been announced via a poster for a new rehang of the collection. Rita Angus in her Cleopatra self-portrait has been served up to illustrate the snappy taglines: ‘Get in the picture,’ ‘Strike a pose and take a selfie,’ and ‘Share your selfie’.

It’s the marketing department encouraging one and all to up their level of engagement, get into Te Papa, and start snapping. The Metropolitan Museum in NY ran the same campaign back in 2009 with the tag "It's time we met." But even given that pedigree you can bet no one from Te papa would have had the nerve to suggest the idea to Angus were she were still alive.

Of course in its purest form the selfie encourages people to not look at art - after all the works they photograph are behind them. To paraphrase Barnett Newman (thanks B), ‘art is what you bump into as you back up to take a photo.’ Even Angus might have got a laugh out of that and, if she were in a mood for payback, she could enjoy the fact that the old Te Papa photography policy “You are not allowed to directly photograph, film, video, or otherwise copy any works on display in the Museum”… including painting” is still firmly in place on their web site

HOLD ON A SECOND: An OTN reader was in Te Papa a couple of days ago and saw someone get their head bitten off by a guard for talking a selfie in the new hang exhib. Is it possible that the selfie opportunity is only with the poster? Now that would taking confusing the public with marketing to new levels.