Hashtag Inventor Chris Messina, Partners with Bourn To Bring Hashtags-Inspired Art Exhibition to NY

Hashtag Inventor Chris Messina, Partners with Bourn
To Bring Hashtags-Inspired Art Exhibition to NY

25 Artists Will Explore 10 Memorable Hashtags

From May 12th-14th, 2016, the Caelum Gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood will feature Hashtags Unplugged, an art exhibition visualizing 10 memorable hashtags including #LoveWins, #BlackLivesMatter, #HeForShe and #TheDress. Curated by creative studio Bourn in collaboration with 25 diverse artists, it will feature pieces in a variety of forms, including painting, illustration, video, installation, and sculpture. Today, Bourn announced a partnership with the original inventor of hashtags, Chris Messina, to help make this an unforgettable exhibition.


Hashtags have sparked conversations, inspired change, and brought awareness to important issues we’ve faced. And they wouldn’t exist without Chris Messina, who on August 23, 2007 tweeted with the world’s first hashtag.

When Bourn approached Messina with the idea of Hashtags Unplugged, he was excited to join in.

“Through this project and the artists’ perspectives, we gain insight and understanding, and unlike previous generations, we get to see ourselves in an unfolding moment, before these trending topics have passed their apex of cultural significance,” says Messina.

The idea for Hashtags Unplugged started in 2014 after Bourn’s creation of Hshtags, a social media search engine powered by hashtags. Hshtags inspired Kim Goulbourne, the mind behind Bourn, to reach out to select artists for their visual reflections on the year’s hashtags, resulting in an online year-in-review exhibition called This Year in Hashtags. The exhibition was well received, and sparked Goulbourne to expand the concept with a wider range of artists, including those using physical media.

“Hashtags capture the most memorable moments in our culture, and I wanted to find a unique way for people to experience how they’ve shaped our world. After displaying the art pieces online, an offline exhibition was the natural next step,” says Goulbourne.

That vision is finally coming to life in the upcoming exhibition Hashtags Unplugged, where Bourn has selected the work of 25 artists to be displayed in an integrated gallery experience. Featured artists include Black Brain (pop noir), Alexis Duque (paint), Tony Murray (sculpture), Tara Adiseshan (data science), Sid & Jim (video), Diana Arand (mixed media), Ashley Ja’nae (drawing), and Joshie Fishbein (creative tech).

Many of the exhibition’s hashtags are familiar, but their inceptions and evolutions are often complex. The background stories for each of the 10 hashtags are being published online in a beautifully designed content series, one per week leading up to opening night. Social media noobs and gurus alike will enjoy these stories, and they provide excellent context for the artists’ work.

The opening reception for Hashtags Unplugged will take place on Thursday, May 12th, from 6–8pm alongside NYCxDESIGN week, New York City’s official citywide celebration of design. Tickets can be purchased online via EventBrite at $12 for the exhibition and $15 for opening day.

Hashtags Unplugged appreciates the support of The Social Media Monthly, a notable partner from the early stages of the exhibition.

For more information contact Kim Goulbourne at 646.481.8324, email or visit the website at hashtagsunplugged.com.