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NICOLE TEE / West Gallery

“What kind of an asshole will use her Instagram as an art show, no?” Photographer Tammy David begins, mocking herself anew. And then: “Apparently, me.”

Post Truth, opening today at West Gallery in Quezon City, is a collection of six Instagram posts from Tammy’s very engaging  personal Instagram gallery.

“They’re the posts that I know a lot of people will understand, posts that would look good in a gallery, and also those that would make a good summary of the 9,000 posts I’ve accumulated,” the photographer and the former content strategist of Silverlens Gallery tells us.

She combed through thousands of posts that span all the seven years she’s been on the photo sharing app. “I joined Instagram very early in 2010. In fact, I was already on IG when I did my show on selfies in Silverlens that same year,” Tammy says.

We speak with the photographer ahead of the opening.

Can you tell us about Post Truth?
My show is about my feed and how I use Instgram. I live online. I like to observe people, have fun, and post my observations on Instagram. I really use Instagram to remember things. It’s my memory bank. People think there’s something deeper there, but I’m really just dicking around.

During the Papal visit in 2015, I took snaps of shirts people were wearing, posted it on my feed, wala lang. But WSJ picked it up.

Two Art Fairs ago, I was making fun of people who were using art as their backdrops for their selfies, and suddenly, people picked it up. I wasn’t there to be viral. I was really just having fun.

So how did Post Truth come about?
In 2015, I was very busy working as a freelancer photographer and also as a staffer of Silverlens in Pasong Tamo. I saw Soler Santos, who owns West Gallery at one of the events, and he said, ‘O, show ka!’ I highly respect Soler as a gallerist, and I think his family is very talented.

In 2016, I got a message from Sol Noble of West. I was given a slot for March 2017. I replied, ‘totoo ba ito?’ I took it as a sign for me to work on personal projects.

NICOLE TEE / West Gallery

I toyed with the idea of making a show out of my first trip to Europe. My plan was, I was gonna go on an IG blackout the entire time I was in Europe, you know, to make the experience fuller. And also, because that will be the content of my show. But I couldn’t do it. I kept posting and it didn’t lessen the trip. So I scrapped that idea.

I wanted to use the March 2017 show to put an end to my long-term personal project on beauty queens. I thought I was going to do a show on the recently concluded Miss Universe, but it wasn’t there anymore. Parang I outgrew it na.

I was ready to back out. In January, I was throwing tantrums in front of Erwin Romulo. I was telling him, “ayoko na mag-show! It’s so expensive! Nakaka-pressure! You’re putting yourself out there. Buti pa sa Instagram.” And then Erwin butts in: “yan na ang show mo!”

How did you pick the photos? Did you choose photos that had the most number of likes?
No. I’m showing six posts in all. I went through the 9,000 posts that I have—it’s insane! I have 9,000 posts! I’m the kind of person who will post once, twice a day. I had this fixation on Nathan Adrian awhile back and it’s so funny to see all the posts I dedicated to him.

But anyway, I chose recent posts, up to 2015. Those that I know will look good in a gallery. Those that people will understand.

How was it like to go through your gallery? How did it feel like to transform them into actual things?
It’s so weird to see them as objects! I really wonder what people are gonna think. It’s different when it’s in a gallery eh, you know? People will spend 10 minutes just looking at them.

But I’m not Jigger Cruz. I’m not Maria Tanaguchi, even if I really, really want to be them. But wala eh. This is me. This is my memory bank.

On Instagram, we know what makes a post successful. But for your show, what will make you say your show is a success?
A success of a post is when people talk about it, when there’s an exchange in the comments section. Here, I haven’t really thought about it. I really just wanted to say something.

NICOLE TEE / West Gallery

We’re talking about Instagram and the engagement of your posts. Let’s turn it around: What makes you follow other people?
I’m following over 3,000 people! The ones I like are those that give a peek to their lives and their views. I like it if I learn something from other people. If there’s a takeaway.

Yours must be one of the most entertaining and most engaging organic Instagram accounts we’ve come across.
I joined IG very early in 2010 before I even did my selfies show in Silverlens that same year. I used it as Twitter for people who don’t read. It’s a tool to communicate with people. But it’s not the same. It can be a marketing tool—I’ve gotten photography jobs because of it, but it’s just my diary.

I’m not here for the likes. I’m not an influencer; one of my friends pitched me to a company to be their influencer but kulang daw sa aesthetics yung feed ko. But that’s fine. I’d rather lose free stuff than my freedom. If I were an influencer, I’d be a slave to content plans, and have all these aesthetics analysis. I’m just here to remember.

NICOLE TEE / West Gallery

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