It isn’t everyday that you walk into a photography museum to see images taken with an iPhone hanging on the walls. In fact, iPhones are what take images we see on the walls of museums (not the other way around). However, one new exhibition in New York flips the script on our smartphones, showing what can really be done with Apple’s most coveted handheld product. The group exhibition “Inward: Reflections on Interiority,” showcases the works of five artists who used the iPhone in stunning ways. On view now at the International Center of Photography in New York City, the photos range from selfies to family portraits and shots of domestic spaces.
It’s one of the first exhibitions that features iPhone-made photographs, where the talents help use the phone as a tool for self-expression. By no coincidence, the latest iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max go on sale this Friday, boasting its most advanced camera yet.
The idea came about during the lockdown of the pandemic. “Over the past year and a half, I was really struck with the fact we were all sequestered, we were all immersed through images, via social media,” said the exhibition’s curator, Isolde Brielmaier. “Those are images taken by everybody.”
“People use it to document themselves and the world around them,” she explains. “But even though we had this public image making tool, what would it mean when you flip the script and turn it on yourself?”
The results are stunning, polished, and personal photographs that capture “unseen” parts of each photographer’s own inner world. Liberian photographer Isaac West showcases iconic, pop art–esque images of friends in everyday scenarios; be it getting a haircut or sharing takeout.
Brad Ogbonna uses the black-and-white filter to shoot himself and his family in a Nigerian photo studio. Meanwhile, Los Angeles photographer Arielle Bob-Willis shoots her earth-toned home interiors in abstract shapes alongside selfies in a way that captures her introverted side.
The curator wasn’t interested in the obvious. “It was to hit the pause moment,” said Brielmaier. “The meditative moments. What would these images look like?” New York photographer Quil Lemons turns the lens on himself for intimate shots, as does Djeneba Aduayom, who uses the selfie as a form of self-reflection.
“Five photographers, I gave them the prompt: What would your images look like if you took this thing out of your pocket and turned it on yourself?” she said. “It’s inward reflections on interiority. They all ran with it in different ways.”