Museums have mixed feelings about social media (especially Instagram). While some, such as LACMA and the Broad, want their visitors to pass by and take photos to post on Instagram (the #FOMO is strong here), others want nothing to do with Instagram and how it seems to be just one more app that keeps people’s faces drawn to phone screens, and not the art. However, Sarah Hromack and Rob Giampietro say that museums are faced with less and less choices. With more and more authority being put in the hands of the viewer via the power of social media, museums can’t afford to turn blind eye to how it’s transformed the museum experience.
You could even say that museums have captured Insta-fever. Around two weeks ago, I ran across this article on The Verge that talks about how the Tate Modern in London is going to put a series of Instagram photos on display in the museum. Run by Amalia Ulman, her Instagram @amaliaulman is a performance piece. She is the main character, portraying a small town girl trying to make it in Los Angeles. Apparently, it was compelling enough for the Tate Modern to install a selection of her posts in their space.
What the Tate Modern is doing is taking their interactions with social media (especially Instagram) to a new level. While performative Instagrams are common (and to an extent, all Instagrams are performative), this is likely the first time a major art museum has decided that it would join the echelons of “art that belongs in a museum”. At the same time, Instagram is a form of digital storytelling via photography/videography, so it could also have been considered only a matter of time before a museum decided to install a series of Instagram posts in their halls. There are plenty of accounts dedicated to being performance pieces (such as the woman who tricked her family into thinking she was in Thailand) to expose just how constructed social media can be, and that is art in its own right, I guess. (At least, the Tate Modern seems to think it is.)