From Jan. 26 to Feb. 25, the ODD Gallery in Dawson City will be featuring an exhibition called The Golden Age of Selfies. The exhibition will showcase work submitted by members of the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture (KIAC).

The idea of taking a selfie might feel modern, but the selfie itself has been around for a while.

In 1839, Robert Cornelius, an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia, set up his camera at the back of the family store. After removing the lens cap, he ran into the frame, sat for a minute, then covered up the lens again. The result was considered by many to be the first photographic portrait – and the first selfie – ever taken. In 1914, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, at the age of 13, was one of the first teenagers to take her own picture using a mirror, and sent it to a friend.

The first use of the word selfie in any paper or electronic medium was in an Australian internet forum in 2002. By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered the word selfie to be one of the top 10 buzzwords of that year, and in 2013, the word itself had become so popular that it was voted the word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary.

The ODD Gallery chose this theme, says Meg Walker, interim gallery director, because the concept of selfies is fascinating. Questions such as “Is there a difference between a selfie and a self-portrait?” and “Why are we currently enjoying taking selfies so much?” are interesting points to ponder.

In the end, she asks, is it about communication, sharing, creating and sustaining fantasies of being popular? Are selfies just expressions of shallow fantasies, or simply part of friendly conversation?

In regards to the title of the exhibition, Walker says calling it The Golden Age of Selfies was a nod towards playfulness.

“When we say the golden age of selfies, we typically refer to a time gone by where the peak of the creative idea, the work, and the technology once existed, and will never be matched again,” she says. She gives the examples of The Golden Age of Hollywood, the Golden Age of Jazz.

“Is the golden age of selfies behind us?” she asks. “Is there more innovation and psychological, emotional, social expression to come, or is it time to move on to something else?”

With the theme of this exhibition, says Walker, “we are poking fun at ourselves. It’s a way of acknowledging that we’ll probably collectively look back at this time and laugh at our obsession.”

The opening reception for The Golden Age of Selfies will be held on Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. For more information, contact Meg Walker at gallery@kiac.ca.