Photo: Tea Time with Ricki and Vix, London, 2015.
In 2008, Todd Selby launched The Selby, a website that showcases his portraits of artist, designers, authors, musicians, and other creatives in their personal spaces. His environmental portraits of everyone from Simon Walker and Jonathan Adler to Oliver Zahm and Andre Walker became an instant hit, garnering a series of illustrated books with Abrams along with invitations to collaborate with companies including Louis Vuitton, Nike, and Sony, among many others. Now, he takes over the entire Daelim Museum in Seoul, South Korea, with The Selby House, a dynamic immersive installation on view through October 29, 2917.
The Selby House is a dazzling affair, a trip down the rabbit hole into a veritable wonderland of life through the eyes of Todd Selby. Breaking free of the monotony of everyday life, The Selby House evokes the spirit of freedom and fun that we experience as children but slowly lose as we come into adulthood. The Selby House restores the sense of happiness we experience in discovering the world and the pleasures we can take in pure color, shape, and form.
When you step into The Selby House you are transported away from the pressures of daily life and the ho-hum sense of the mundane and whisked into a world of pure joy and fantasy. Hundreds of photographs, illustrations, sculptures, and site-specific installations ore on view throughout the museum’s four floors and exteriors, including recreations of Selby’s own living room, bedroom, and studio to give us an inside view of the artist’s life and creative process.
The show is organized into four sections beginning with “Selby The Photographer,” which presents the artist’s portraits that made him a global icon. In each photograph we can quietly gaze upon the each person in the privacy of their home or studio, looking at how they live and work as the materialization of their spirit and soul. There’s something deeply endearing about this kind of access, something that feels profoundly revealing yet avoids the exploitative sense that voyeurism brings. In Selby’s photographer we begin to perceive one’s milieu as a manifestation of their being.
Next up is “Selby The Illustrator,” which presents some 160 illustrations that the artist has made of a subject of particular interest. He reveals, “Rather than technically reproducing my subjects, I strive to bring my personality in terms of colors, aesthetic, fun, and energy to everything I paint.”
In “Selby The Storyteller,” we see a series of five photographs placed inside resin frames that have been designed for the exhibition. Each of the frames tells the story of the people inside the photograph, bringing them to life with a series of images and icons that evoke their personal stories. “The illustrations also give me an opportunity to express my own vision, which is based somewhat on reality but also in my own fantasy and creativity,” Selby explains.
Lastly, there are the mind-blowing installations that will make you feel like a kid again. “Selby The Traveler, “Selby The Neighbor,” and “Selby The Dreamer” are life-size dioramas that take us inside the heart of Todd Selby, giving us a three-dimensional perception of his world.
“Selby The Dreamer” is truly mesmerizing as it brings us into the artist’s childhood. When he was 13, his family flew halfway around the world to Papua New Guinea, one of the most incredible islands on earth. Here is the jungle where some of the oldest extent tribes live as one with nature, a place that called to his father, also a photographer. Selby transforms the entire fourth floor of the museum into Jungle Room, a return to this incredible world.
He recalls his travels along the Sepik River, remembering, “As I fell asleep to the churn of the boat’s engine, I had a crazy dream. I dreamt that I was alone in the jungle. I was walking down a wooden plank path, and the odd thing was each of the boards seems to come from a different brightly colored tree. In the distance I heard a repetitive drum beat, and the howling of a giant monkey.”
Here, the scene of his dream is brought to life, bringing us into the most personal, powerful, and transformative room of The Selby House, bringing us back to where it all began, so many years ago.
All photos: © Todd Selby, courtesy of Daelim Museum.
Miss Rosen is a journalist covering art, photography, culture, and books. Her byline has appeared in L’Uomo Vogue, Vogue Online, The Undefeated, Dazed Digital, Aperture Online, and Feature Shoot. Follow her on Twitter @Miss_Rosen.