The Instagram Show at the Melrose Lightspace

0 Comments 05 December 2013

instagram show

Preview of The Instagram Show at the Melrose Lightspace, curated by Peter Michelena and Michael Rababy.


By Daniel Barron


     “Now, more than ever, anybody can take a great photo, maybe even accidentally,” says professional photographer Michael Rababy.

    He’s right, of course, though the truth is most of these people are, shall we say, “phoning it in.”  In the last six years, smart phones have created a paradigm shift in the way many of us develop a concept of self or relate to others.  They have become a lifestyle accessory that transcends continents and class and culture.  They have become personal museums of lives curated through a careful (or not so careful) collection of Facebook posts, tweets, Vine videos, and Instagram selfies.

     For the creatively inclined, the ease and versatility of their use has also brought fire to the people.  Don’t know anything about shutter speed or aperture?  There’s an app that can help with that.  This mass unlocking of the inner shutterbug has marginalized a large number of professionals, yet Rababy has a much more positive view of this shift: “What I really find interesting about Instagram and the overall direction that photography is headed is that it’s kind of leveling the playing field.  Now that we have cameras that are run by computers a lot of the guesswork is being taken out of the engineering part of photography which allows you to be purely creative.” 


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“Girl in Water,” by Gabriele Martinelli.

     In tribute to this flowering of inspiration, Rababy paired up with fellow photographer Peter Michelena to curate The Instagram Show (Dec 5-7), an exhibition at West Hollywood’s Melrose Lightspace devoted solely to images taken, edited, and/or shared with camera phones using apps such as Instagram, Hipstamatic, Oggle, Snapseed, Camera+, Snapchat, Tadaa, PS Express, and more.  All of the work featured in the show was culled from submissions by Instagram users across the globe, spanning a wide range of age groups and experience levels.

     “Traditionally with an art show, you have artists who are deliberately creating for a show.  What’s different about this show is that we’re featuring pieces that could have been very spontaneously taken by novices.  A lot of the people showing in our show have never shown before,” says Rababy.  

johnny naked instagram show

“Boy on Rock,” by Johnny Naked.

     Rababy and Michelena received submissions from countries ranging from Egypt to Argentina to Turkey , Italy, Lebanon, Switzerland, and beyond.  Rababy supposes that a large number of these contributors have never even touched a real camera, yet he argues that Instagram is a specific medium with its own visual language to interpret.  Being a veteran in the field does not always equal great art.  “There are some people who work in photography that we were expecting to see great work from.  Then we found great work from places we never expected like this thirteen-year-old girl.”

     What we can infer is that a great photographer can come from anywhere.  Smart phones and photo apps have been able to jump the engines of latent creatives.  And for all of the professional skepticism about Instagram’s impact on the form, it’s clear that good art still speaks for itself.   “I read somewhere that when word processors came out there was speculation that a lot of people would start writing and that all of these great novels would come about.  And obviously that didn’t really happen.”


instagram show

Photo by Brendan Gabriel Murphy.


“Never Never Land,” Photo by Anne Thurston.


“Before the Storm,” by Chris Rivera.


instagram show

Photo by Lauren Franca.


instagram show

Photo by Melissa Richardson Banks.


instagram show

“Lisa Dancing,” by Bryce Lankard.


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Photo by Lym Photography.


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“Port Renfrew,” by Charise Folnovic.


instagram show

“Reflections of the Sky,” by Anush Mkrtchyan.


instagram show

“Independence Day,” by Annalee Lanier.


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Photo by Steve Brenner.


instagram show

Photo by Michael Rababy.


And here are the winners…

1st Place- Tamar Levine, “Kiri, Kiri, Kiri”

instagram show

2nd Place- Christopher Rivera, “Mind the Birds”

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3rd Place- Chris Blough, “Untitled”

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Honorable Mentions


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“Topsy Turvy,” by Andrew Oxenham.

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“Watermelon,” by Ashley Harmeyer.


instagram show

“Sixth Avenue,” by Trevor Messersmith.


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“Grello,” by Dave Cassel.


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Photo by Jeff Beard.


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“Two Penguins,” by Tal Vigderson.


instagram show

“Flori-Bieber,” by Rebecca Bleam.


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“Morning Rush (Hong Kong,” by Carl D’Souza.


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“it’s A Monkey Thing,” by Genne Grace Abing.


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“Euphoria,” by Diedre Robinson.


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“Stranger On The Plane,” by Mauricio Murillo.


Learn more about The Instagram Show on its website.

View more Michael Rababy photography on his website.

Follow Michael Rababy on Twitter and Instagram at @fullonrad.

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- who has written 424 posts on Yay! LA | Arts & Culture Magazine.

Rudderless college graduate Daniel Barron founded Yay! LA Magazine on a love of writing, passion for the arts, and a firm belief that people really like talking about themselves. He contributed to a number of publications, including LA Music Blog and the defunct The Site Unscene, before deciding to cover arts and entertainment the way he wanted to read it. He works as a freelance writer and digital PR consultant in his current home of Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @YayDanielBarron.

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