An Open Letter to Snapchat: Kill Your Art Basel Story, Please

It's time for an intervention.


(Photo via Snapchat)

Dear Snapchat,

When you did a Snapchat Story for the AMAs, where anyone could watch a curated stream of snaps from the American Music Awards, we got it. We felt like we’d gotten the full AMA experience from a number of manic angles without having to sit down for excruciating hours of polished, ad-laden TV viewing.

Same goes for your crowdsourced coverage of the Macy’s Day Parade, recent college football games and Electric Zoo. Well done.

But this week, you guys decided to run a Snapchat Story for of Art Basel, one of the world’s top international art festivals. While Art Basel is definitely a bacchanalia of celebrity shenanigans, the truth is that your core #teen demographic doesn’t give a shit about contemporary art.

They don’t care about the hand-painted cigarette butts of the new Dan Colen installation. They don’t care about new Mika Tajima series. They might love Miley, but they’d rather see her perform than her weird sculptures. Otherwise, they most definitely don’t care that blue chip art is having a resurgence for the festival’s biggest spenders.

We suspect that you secretly know this to be true, which is why you felt the need to call the Story “Art Festival in Miami.” Forget having ever heard of Art Basel, most kids wouldn’t even know how to pronounce it (it’s “bozzle,” btw, or sometimes “baahl”).

Snapchat & Art Basel: a marriage as natural as bottle service and Five Guys. (Photos via Snapchat)

Snapchat & Art Basel: a marriage as natural as bottle service and Five Guys. (Photos via Snapchat)

The biggest issue is that Art Basel just doesn’t translate well over snaps. The callow contributions to the Snapchat Story so far seem more like mockery than aspirational viewing. And at risk of sounding sanctimonious, creating a feed of people overlaying vapid hashtags over the world’s finest curated collections reinforces that stereotype you have of eroding all meaning from culture and corrupting our youth.

Besides, the new Ghost of a Dream installation would look like garbage through the lens of your over-compressed video.

Look, we sympathize with your obvious reasoning here. You’re playing around, figuring out how event coverage could develop lucrative partnerships. Your valuation is climbing and you’re far from profitable. We feel you—startups gotta exit.

But what about that money-transfer feature you guys debuted? You know, the one with the terrible commercial that you totally should have called “Snap-plePay.” Apple, Google, Facebook, and all of the rest of your elders in the Valley are moving in that direction, because they know that paying yourself richly as a middleman on everyone’s transactions at least makes people hate you less than forcing ads in their faces. Stick to that!

Because unless this is some big ploy to get the kids involved in a deeper appreciation of the mercurial world of contemporary art, we’ll be honest: we have no idea what your game is. And you’re embarrassing yourself.

That said, we’d love to see your engagement metrics on this one.

Love Always,


An Open Letter to Snapchat: Kill Your Art Basel Story, Please