I always enjoy the end of year portfolio reviews, not only because they offer the opportunity to find individual works and emerging artists who can be collaborators in a future project, but because I can tag along for the buzz of the final show. I love experimental low-budget scenographies, and here I find plenty to indulge.
I look forward to identifying new trends and ideas from students’ innovative practices and creative propositions. And by engaging with a new generation of artists, I can continue to challenge set ideas and embrace new ones. I always welcome this annual exchange exploring what’s new on the scene.
Well, this year was little different, to put it mildly, and students were faced with the impossibility of finishing projects already conceptualised, or of seeing considered scenographies for the end of year exhibition visualised, both an essential aspect of the visual creative process. The final show is what students work so hard towards realising, and suddenly it's gone.
So I wasn't sure what to expect from this year’s students at LCC, or how the lockdown would have disrupted projects. It was uplifting to see how positive the general mood was, and how everyone was engaged in their work, articulating how the obstacles and restrictions they had encountered had become part of a creative process.
Some students' portfolios reflected this reality, showing work in response to lockdown, which was produced in real-time as a self-reflective record of the time. Other works were projects already in production, with some unavoidable modifications.
But there was a recurring theme across several of the portfolios, various dimensions of inquiry about the construction of memory. This theme was revisited from a broad range of perspectives and mediums. Using either singly or multi-layered photography, archival materials, ephemera, sculpture, words, sounds, and performative intervention, in the construction of multidisciplinary narratives.
It is encouraging to see the many different approaches touching on several topics under the overarching theme of memory. Some artists used first-hand experiences to reflect on trans-territory identities, going through bloodlines to reconstruct the family visual archive. Or used investigative research to dissect and understand cross-generational trauma. Re-enactment and performance were also used to explore domestic family settings and transitioning memories. As I am currently working on the theme "The Architecture of Memory" for Landskrona Foto Festival, for this coming September, it was particularly poignant to discuss with artists who are forming their ideas around this topic. It has been an inspirational dimension to add to my lockdown-isolated-thought-process, to be able to meet, discuss and share.
Monica Allende is an independent Photo Editor, Curator, Educator and Cultural Producer. Currently, she is Director (Maternity cover) at FORMAT International Photography Festival and also Artistic Director of Getxo Photo, Bilbao for 2016-2019. She is producing with artist Anton Kusters a project about revisiting the memory of the Holocaust, 'Blue Skies'.
Monica collaborates with the team of Screenprojects.org and is the co-founder of Offspring Photo Meet in London. Previously, she was the Photo Editor at the Sunday Times Magazine, where she launched Spectrum, the award-winning photography section. Allende has been a guest lecturer, portfolio reviewer, jury member and educator for numerous leading international organizations for which she travels extensively.