Dina Litovsky: Untag This Photo

For the last few years I have been photographing the New York City nightlife in its different incarnations- clubs, lounges and bars, as well as parties – both public and private. During this time I observed the focus of the events shift from partying to photographing the partying and became fascinated by the often exhibitionist behavior of women in this changing social context. This project is my exploration of how public behavior and personal representation have been influenced by the accessibility and availability of electronic media, specifically digital cameras, iphones and networking sites. – from the artists statement 


Photographs ©Dina Litovsky

I’m fascinated by our collective compulsion to document what seems like every moment of our lives. I know for some people it’s kind of strange but I don’t think it’s much different than what we’ve always been doing, with the big exception that more and more of us are choosing to do it very publicly. In a few weeks Facebook will launch Timeline which I think will really crystalize the notion that many people are using social media to tell the story of their life, and these stories will be presented and archived on Facebook.

I think it’s important we collect and organize this data, but where it becomes a bit problematic and perhaps interesting is that what we’re doing is really crafting the story that we want to tell about ourselves which in many cases is probably far from reality. I think we all present this idealized vision of ourselves on the web which could be having a serious impact on our interpersonal relationships. Do we always need to be in ‘character’? Are we creating unreasonable expectations by trying to live up to this ideal, virtual self? Is our culture expecting each of us to stay true to these idealized selves?

I’m not going to pretend to really understand how this impacts women but my sense is that it must be anxiety inducing. There’s already tremendous cultural pressure to look a certain way, and now that all women, not just models and actresses, can have camera’s focussed on them, it seems that there might be this pressure for women to project themselves the way models, actresses, pop stars and other celebrities project themselves.

Dina wrote a few words about promoting this project through social media. We hope to continue the dialogue going as this is an ever changing, ever evolving topic.

Since Untag This Photo deals with digital culture, I thought the Internet would be a perfect vehicle for both viewing and promoting the series. I envisioned an audience participation in the work, a fluid exchange of ideas rather then a passive viewing of the photos. The project took off thanks to Darren Ching who published it in PDN Photo of the Day back in May. Since then it has appeared in magazines and photoblogs around the world, from Turkey to China. But what is even more exciting is that the series did create the kind of active, sometimes heated, discussion that I had hoped for.

  • http://twitter.com/SceneSiren Erin Mugavero

    Thank you for sharing not only striking pictures but also thought-provoking insight into your motivation in documenting parties and how the social behavior of people— particularly women— in these settings is impacted and shaped by digital social media.  I look forward to following your continued investigation.

  • Dina

     Thank you Kurt!

  • Dina

    Thank you B! I am so glad you are enjoying the photo!

  • Bbancel

    I bought your photo with the girl on the sofa and the three people looking at the camera at the PRC auction and love it.  The work is great and I enjoyed seeing all the photos that work with this photo currently on my wall.  THANKS.

  • Kurt R

    Great job, Dina! You are so good at capturing multiple “moments” in a single spontaneous shot. Looking forward to more, more, more!