We're Feeling Interview Mag's Selfie Covers: Here's Why
Interview Magazine’s latest issue is a selfie spectacular, a collection of eight covers showcasing some of social media’s biggest personalities. Titled the #ME issue, the covers feature celebrities including Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus, and, of course, Kim Kardashian, most in various states of undress. We think it’s fucking genius.
ME is based on Interview founder Andy Warhol’s famous aphorism that “everyone in the world will be famous for fifteen minutes.” The issue does a deep dive into various social media accounts, publishing selfies from 150 celebrities, artists, and models. The images are striking; our favorites include Cher showing her cellphone to schoolchildren, Carine Roitfeld posing with duckface, and Ai Weiwei’s intense, shirtless portrait. “Everyone is, if not world famous exactly, at least on air,” reads the magazine. “On YouTube, in our tweets and ‘grams, we are each of us broadcasting 24/7 the reality show of ourselves—projecting the “we” we see or would like to be.”
The concept is perfect for Interview. It plays with pop art, bringing up many of the questions asked when Warhol was just starting out. It didn’t take long for Warhol’s work to be hailed as brilliant by critics, but the general public was left asking what was so artistic about a can of soup. It took a few years, but Warhol-style pop art became normalized, with appropriation artists like John Baldessari and Richard Prince creating work to great acclaim.
The humble selfie seems to be on the same track. Once considered solely the provenance of vain teenage girls, selfies are now a universal element of social media use. They’re increasingly coming to prominence in fine art and fashion circles. Internet artists like Amalia Ulman use Instagram selfies as a form of performance art. Prince used other people’s Instagrams as a medium in his controversial exhibition, New Portraits, an installation that made people wonder when appropriation goes too far.
Selfie art was taken to new heights by Kimmy K, whose book of selfies, Selfish, was distributed by fine art publisher Rizzoli, initially shocking the art world. We think it’s a masterpiece, and we’re not alone. Writing about the book, famed critic Jerry Saltz said that Kardashian’s celebrity has created “a new essence that [she] seemed to be shaping as surely and strangely as Andy Warhol once formed his… this shaping simultaneously shines, shields, and spawns knee-jerk criticisms of crassness, shallow opportunism, and surface-only illusion. But it makes people look all the same.”
Vogue may have done a cover hailing the arrival of “the Instagirls,” but they didn’t publish their actual Instagram posts. The Interview cover signals the selfie’s acceptance as some kind of an art form. Will more magazines hop on the selfie-cover train? And what will this mean for fashion photography?
We think at this point the world has accepted the artistry of iPhone photography; you have to be talented to use a phone to create something like Nick Knight’s Diesel campaign, or Sean Baker’s Tangerine. Just as the invention of photography didn’t signal the death of painting, iPhone art doesn’t mean that cameras are obsolete. But anyone really can take a selfie. Mert Alas is featured in the issue, face-timing with Kim Kardashian and Miley Cyrus. Will he soon be out of a job?