Oh so sweet


The Citizen (KZN) - - Travel -

Crammed into a su­per­mar­ket trol­ley, Kiki Mal­liora squealed with laugh­ter as she rolled past her sis­ter at Cologne’s pop-up selfie mu­seum, where vis­i­tors said hav­ing fun out­weighs the hunt for “likes” in a chang­ing social media land­scape.

“Sure, the set­ting is fake,” said the of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tor, 38, dressed in a black crop T-shirt and jeans. “But what mat­ters to me is that the pic­ture is real and peo­ple can see I’m hav­ing a good time.”

With its bub­blegum-pink bal­loons, neon-coloured ball pits and retro Amer­i­can diner as eye­pop­ping, ready­made pho­to­graphic back­drops, the Su­per candy Mu­seum is an In­sta­gram­mer’s dream.

The at­trac­tion’s three-month run comes as a new wave of social media users prize au­then­tic­ity over staged photos and celebrity in­flu­encers are in­creas­ingly hon­est about the ef­fort that goes into keep­ing up a pic­ture-per­fect feed.

Amer­i­can singer Demi Lo­vato at­tracted al­most 10 mil­lion In­sta­gram “likes” when she posted an unedited bikini shot re­veal­ing her cel­lulite, while Hollywood ac­tress Drew Bar­ry­more showed her­self cry­ing on a “dif­fi­cult and not so pretty” day.

In­sta­gram is even ex­per­i­ment­ing with mak­ing the like-but­ton in­vis­i­ble in re­sponse to con­cerns over its men­tal health im­pact.

Crit­ics say younger users es­pe­cially re­port feel­ing anx­ious or self-con­scious if their posts don’t per­form well.

“When I see those elab­o­rately staged pictures, I just think: God, that must have taken a lot of work,” said Mal­liora.

Her younger sis­ter Nathalie, who keeps her In­sta­gram ac­count pri­vate for pre-ap­proved fol­low­ers only, nod­ded in agree­ment.

Pop-up at­trac­tions like the one in Cologne have sprung up across the globe in re­cent years, of­fer­ing any­one armed with a smart­phone a plethora of brashly coloured, play­ful set­tings to liven up their social media pres­ence.

The Supercandy Mu­seum re­turned to the west­ern Ger­man city this month af­ter a pre­vi­ous six-month stint drew over 42 000 mainly fe­male vis­i­tors, with full­price tick­ets cost­ing €29 (R471).

The man be­hind Supercandy, Frank Karch, said ticket sales were “no­tice­ably up” for the sec­ond edi­tion, this time lo­cated in an in­dus­trial build­ing in the city’s hip Ehren­feld district.

“Even­tu­ally this craze too will run its course,” he said.

The emer­gence of creators cham­pi­oning un­fil­tered, real-life pictures isn’t a threat to his busi­ness model, he said, ar­gu­ing that social media was di­ver­si­fy­ing so much there was a niche for ev­ery­one.

“The over­ar­ch­ing mega-trend will stay the same it has been since the in­ven­tion of paint­ing: want­ing to have a nice pic­ture of your­self.”

Social media ex­pert Kle­mens Sk­ibicki, a pro­fes­sor at the Cologne Busi­ness School, agreed but said the gulf was widen­ing be­tween those who see social media as a hobby and those who use it as a tool to pro­mote them­selves or a brand – with some in­flu­encers earn­ing enough to quit their day jobs.

Es­chew­ing “self­ies”, which any­one can take, in­flu­encers tend to opt more for “posies” taken by some­one else, of­ten a pro­fes­sional photograph­er, he said, to keep their posts looking pol­ished and as­pi­ra­tional.

At Supercandy, Ger­man re­al­ity TV cou­ple Ginger Costello Woller­sheim and Bert Woller­sheim – who have 85 000 fol­low­ers be­tween them – played with piles of pink $100 bills as their photograph­er snapped away.

“If you don’t post good pictures for a while, you get fewer likes and peo­ple un­fol­low. So we’re here to make beau­ti­ful, cre­ative photos,” said Ginger, 33, smil­ing broadly.

Her long-haired hus­band Bert, 68, a reg­u­lar fea­ture in Ger­many’s tabloid press, said they weren’t “fa­nat­i­cal” about chas­ing “likes”.

“Coming here is fun, it changes our story up a bit and that’s good for us pro­fes­sion­ally,” added Bert, clad in shades and sparkly train­ers.

But not ev­ery­one could see the appeal of what is es­sen­tially a gi­ant photo stu­dio.

Chat­ting with her friends in a busy Cologne shop­ping street, high school stu­dent Anna-Maria, 17, cringed at the thought of fork­ing out money to pose against an ar­ti­fi­cial backdrop.

“That’s way too fake. I pre­fer spon­ta­neous snap­shots, where some­one is laughing or in the middle of do­ing some­thing,” she said.

“And I’d only post a selfie if my friends were in it too.”

Pictures: AFP

GREASED LIGHT­NING. In­sta­gram in­flu­encer An­maykaa is be­ing pho­tographed at the Supercandy pop-up mu­seum vol. 2 in Cologne, west­ern Ger­many. The in­ter­ac­tive mu­seum of­fers a photo backdrop.

BALLSY. Man­fred Ded­erl, right, is be­ing pho­tographed at the Supercandy pop-up mu­seum vol. 2.

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