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Review: The Time We Call our Own, Open Eye Gallery

The Time We Call our Own
Open Eye Gallery
until 23rd October

View the full exhibition in VR online here

Words, Carol Emmas
Images, c. Rob Battersby

It is particularly poignant that The Time We Call our Own brings together a gallery of images that explore how people gather and identify with one another. Especially, as it comes at a time when we are currently in limbo and unsure of how we might be able to gather together in the future.

A thoughtful collection at a hyper-reflective time, the exhibition focuses on nightlife and what it describes as: “The palpable energy found in bars and clubs (and sometimes the living room)”. The photographs highlight the different tribes and sub-cultures we identify with though fashion, personality wavelength and style. The exhibition portrays gatherings in nightclubs and how we express ourselves globally through not only through dance, culture and style but through touch, connection, intimacy and our physical relationships with each other. That interconnectedness once taken for granted – is now up for question and reassessment. There is also a particular singularity to the portraiture of the exhibition, which again strikes home that whilst we may be collectively together in our tribes, we also can be simultaneously very much alone.

Upstairs, is a nostalgic selection of images from Amelia Lonsdale who met exhibition curator, Adam Murray through University. She showed him a series of photographs taken in the 1980s by her mother and boyfriend, who were interested in fashion and music. As part of the New Romantics scene, they would make most of their clothes themselves and then photograph each other before going out for the night. What began as a bit of fun, over time this has become an artistic document in its own right. The images also highlight how before the mobile phone it was disposable cameras or photo booths people had to rely upon in order to record. Although the images are posed, they are more natural than today’s selfie. Back then, if you didn’t think you looked great you couldn’t delete and take another. The photographer had just one chance, or waste the film.

In an equally reflective segue, the exhibition in the atrium from Bido Lito! who has on its 10th anniversary opened up its photographic archive to celebrate a decade of championing visual and music culture. The exhibition ‘you out tonight?’ also can’t help make us reflect upon the sadness that live music and nightlife has been pushed firmly into the background because of Covid-19. As the government continues to make attempts at keeping our economy afloat, it is live music and the artists who create and perform art and music are viewed as a lesser imperative. There are many of us who really miss seeing live music, performance and art events and miss the gathering of like-minded individuals, the swapping of ideas and the personal inspiration and creative stimulation these events create. This exhibition brings home also what it must feel like for the artists and performers whose creativity has no outlet.

As we bed down for potentially another six months or more of restriction, we can only cling to the hope that such gatherings in a safe way will be able to somehow take place again soon. If you are looking for some hope to cling to in a future that seems currently pretty bleak, then have a quiet wander around this exhibition – as it’s gently satisfying and in a way, a comforting reassurance that at some point things have to resume. 

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