FROM Tommy Honton
Selfie culture takes over the museum A visitor to Happy Place, one of LA’s many “selfie museum” pop-ups. Over the last year or so we’ve seen a trend for “made for Instagram” museums - collections of colorful sets designed for taking flattering self-portraits. They include the Museum of Ice Cream, Candytopia, Happy Place, 14th Factory and, coming soon, a museum of optical illusions and the Museum of Selfies. The latest was 29 Rooms, a pop-up of artist-created installations produced by the design and fashion website Refinery29, and branded by corporations -- including Toyota, Google Pixel, Marc Jacobs, Adidas and Netflix -- and nonprofits such as Planned Parenthood. The vivid, theatrical sets were selfie heaven but according to Refinery29’s co-founder Piera Gelardi, “our events are really rooted in storytelling and the celebration of creativity and self-expression.” But why are there so many of these selfie pop-ups right now? It’s partly to do with unused warehouse and former retail space that can be quickly filled with art for a month or two, explains LA Downtown News reporter Nicholas Slayton. It’s also a reflection of the decline of interest in retail. And the Selfie-taking audience is highly sought after by “high art” museums. After all, Yayoi Kusama’s “infinity mirror rooms” show at the Broad Museum is the ultimate selfie ticket. Which raises the question: how does selfie culture coexist with the fine art world? DnA explores the phenomenon with escape room designer Tommy Honton, co-founder of the Museum of Selfies, coming soon to Glendale. The museum won’t be “just a hall of Kardashian selfies,” Honton said. You will be able to study selfie culture as you take selfies. He promises a selfie-taking set of the top of a skyscraper -- echoing the real skyscrapers that some selfie-takers have fallen off; and exhibits will draw attention to the story of Narcissus and the history of self-portraiture. Honton points out that historically only the rich could afford to pay an artist to preserve youthful images of ourselves. Now young people use selfies to achieve the same goal: to project status and show off their youthful looks. “This selfie culture is not that different from how people have acted for 40,000 years,” he said. More: WIRED: Selfie Factories: The Rise of the Made-for-Instagram Museum Happy Place is L.A.'s latest selfie-inspiring pop-up 29Rooms: Bummed that the DTLA event is sold out? Don't be
Hua Hsu: A Floating Chinaman Author Hua Hsu stops by to discuss his book A Floating Chinaman, recounting the life of 1930's actor/writer H.T. Tsiang and his struggles entering the American literary world.
George Saunders: Lincoln in the Bardo (Part I) Lincoln in the Bardo dramatizes a grieving President Lincoln as he visits the grave of his beloved son Willie, who died at age eleven. In the novel, the buried dead believe they're not dead -- "they're sick and refer to their coffins as "sick boxes."