On the 5th of October, 2023, I held my Open View for the exhibition, 2020 Pandemic: Visions of London After People. The road to that moment was a long one: 3 years in the making, plus 10 months of intense planning, plus a week and a half of having to change the date because of the planned Tube Strikes-which they called off! Arrrgh. So yes, a long road. Regardless, the Open View went ahead and I could not be happier. But before that, let me share some behind the scenes stories...
Gallery 1885 at the Camera Club had a make-over during the Summer, so instead of having exposed brown bricks, the exhibition hang on white walls with amazing texture. The white & black photographs from the Panemic seemed to pop out like little windows into the past.
Here are some behind the scenes photos of the day when we hang the exhibition. My friends, Reme and Elzbieta, were wonderful and helped me get everything ready. See at the bottom a little video about my reaction when I saw them on the walls for the first time! I am not going to lie: it was a very emotional moment for me.
Photos and video by Reme Perní.
The Zines, the Postcards, and the Shop
When you think about a project for as long as I thought about this one, you know that there are certain things that will make it even better. For me, it wasn't just the photos that went up on the walls that were important, but my whole journeys into London during the Pandemic. This is why I decided to create 5 zines to expand on what was on the walls. At the end of the day, I processed about 300 photos, but only 48 made it into the exhibition! So, the zines allowed me to visually retrace those walks and the photos that I took then. I spent so many hours combing through the old photos and retracing my steps...and that was a different emotional journey as I remembered what I did or how I felt during those walks. There was determination, fear, courage, physical discomfort, injuries, dehydration...and silence. So much silence! It was difficult to imagine that this was London 3 years ago.
Covers for the 5 zines and the postcards by me.
After finishing the zines, then I decided that I also needed a couple of commemorative postcards to give away during the Open View, and maybe to sell afterwards! So, I did it! And of course, when you realise the amount of time, energy, and money that has gone into a project like this, you realise that you need to give the opportunity for others to be able to support you too (if they wish to). I've never been the best at the business side of photography, but I wanted to show the value of the work that I did and the many years that I have spend on this project. This is why I opted to open an exhibition shop. There you can purchase any of the affordable exhibition prints (which have the added bonus of getting the 5 zines for free if you purchase a print), as well as pre-order print copies of the zines, or purchase the pdf version of them, and of course, the postcards! So there you have it! Shop plug done and over...let's go to the fun part!
The Open View
And then there was the Open View on the 5th of October, 2023. Despite the many challenges, I was ready to present this work to the world. It has been a little over 3 years since the first lockdown, and it truly feels like a lifetime ago. It was an extraordinary time and I was lucky enough to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills and the courage to just do it. Did I ever consider that I would be showing them in a gallery 3 years later? No. At the time, these walks were the only thing that kept me grounded. I spent lockdown alone so they gave a me a mission to focus on, a purpose. Go. Document. Go again. Continue documenting. And I did it. It was not easy to overcome my fears of going out. I wore a mask every time, and kept more than the recommended social distance of the few people that I might encouter along the way. Now that I look back, I feel that it was worth it.
The open view brought together people from the club and friends. They all came together to support me and my work, which made me incredibly happy. I am very lucky to be part of such a thriving community of photographers, and to have the most wonderful of friends who not only came, but bought a print or two! THANK YOU!
Photos by Vitor Lopes.
On top of that, what really mattered the most for me where the conversations that I heard. People sharing their own stories about the Pandemic. Hearing the feelings that the photos were evoking on them was incredible. To be honest, that was the best compliment that anybody could ever give me. But still, it was such a glorious night to come togehter and remember that one time that we all faced the same storm, but were in different boats. That one time that left us collectively traumatised to the point that we have not been able, or we have not been ready, to really talk about it. And, I don't know, maybe it is time for us to do precisely that, and maybe projects like mind will help us get those important conversations started. Anyway, the exhibition will be up until the 27th of October, at which time I will have a closing view at Gallery 1885 from 6:30 pm till 9pm. Everybody is welcome! See below some highlights of the night.
Photos by Vitor Lopes.