Think you have the best photo diary in New York City? Instagram, the super popular iPhone (and now Android) app that lets users snap photos, add film-mimicking filters, and share them with friends is hosting its first-ever real-life exhibition at the W Hotel in Times Square. The show will feature the work of six star Instagram users, as well as six extras, each chosen by one of the artists from among those who upload images using the app’s #WDESIGN hashtag in the coming week.
Curator Brian Difeo, who is the head of the Instagram NYC community, hopes that the W showcase will help fight the impression that the app is just for turning your snapshots into faux-vintage Polaroids. “There are immensely talented photographers producing incredible work on the application,” he said in a statement. “The gallery exhibit will elevate this art form to new heights.” The Insta-artistes Difeo has uncovered include the likes of collagist Angeliki Jackson, professional photographer John de Guzman, and painter Chrixtian Xavier Chantemargue, among others. All of the featured photographers will be honored for using Instagram to document their daily lives in New York City.
So, will this exhibition help Instagram escape its association with twee hipsterdom? The initial results, it has to be said, are not promising. Photos released from the exhibition so far consist of dreamy black-and-white shots of bridges, sunbursts seen down Manhattan streets, and skyscrapers turned into architectural abstractions — hardly fare that is likely to win over the avant-garde crowd. Hopefully the results will stray beyond the traditional vocabulary of tourist postcards.
If you can do better, shoot some Instagram snaps that “focus on the impact that urban design elements and architecture have on the character of a city’s landscape,” and tag them #WDESIGN any time before April 12. The contest is open to photographers in any city the world over, and the ultimate grand prize, awarded to one of the six added Instagrammers, includes a weekend at the W and a souped-up iPhone camera lens, along with a spot in the exhibition. For those curious about the results, the Instagram showcase will run from May 1 through June at 1567 Broadway.