About

2020 was a year that marked many people, like a Sign of the Times. As students, we got together digitally and encouraged others to explore this period through an exhibition that speaks to this moment. The eight featured artists share their personal and sensory experiences in the face of a long retrospective closure. The result is a chain of works in dialogue with one another, researching different aspects about life during the pandemic to which we can all relate.

 

With lockdown, the concept of the house has partly changed from a shelter to a cage: the exhibition invites you inside a shared personal space, where human thoughts and emotions drive you in many different directions. Once inside, the white cube hosts three general themes to be followed clockwise: the re-exploration and reaction to external spaces, the oppression within enclosed spaces and its impact on daily life and routine, and an exploratory attempt to reconstruct a shared memory.


With a curatorial path as rich in complexity and nuances as the situation of these times, full of revelations that apply at different levels, Sign of the Times is proposed as a collective exhibition where artists, curators and works of art interact with each other around the ways in which Environment, Time and Memory have affected us during 2020 and the ways in which our perception of these has been impacted by the pandemic.

 

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Marta Roncalli

After spending endless time constrained at home, a re-evaluation of nature and its rejuvenating impact on the human
psyche was expectedly at the core of the artistic practices and research of many. “Nature taught me to pause, to think, to notice and to attune all my senses”, states Marta Roncalli. The phenomenon of changing habits and living spaces due to the restrictions of the pandemic evoked in her the need to shift from digital to analogue photography, achieving a nostalgic and dreamy tone in her images. The recent renaissance of film photography encourages an ever-increasing need for spontaneity and renewal. The “imperfect beauty” of film photography can therefore find feelings and meanings that are out of the ordinary, allowing individuals to “understand the eternal value of nature, time and therefore existence”.

Marta Roncalli foto.jpg

Marta Roncalli (b.2000, Milan, Italy) currently works and studies in Milan. Passionate about the publishing world and visual communication, in 2018 she started study photography by her own. It is for her a powerful means of expression, connection with nature and essential tools for understanding the social reality. Her experimentation is both analog and digital.

 

The MO

The MO’s artistic project equally resonates with this idea of inexhaustible time within an enclosed space procuring pain. Unable to break free, the dumbo character with its empty eyes does not fit the squared picture. On the contrary, it makes the medium oppressing. Sedimented in the Sims cyclical existence, unable to attain freedom even after eating, showering and sleeping, The MO simply asks: “Did 2020 even exist, or was it all but a simulation”? Every day is slowly merging into one, and we barely remember what we have  been doing yesterday. To cope with this state, The MO archived their everyday into photographs, texts, artworks, and this photographic series is the result of 17 continual hours of introspection.

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The MO (1998) is a part-time artist, full-time Geography student currently based in Glasgow. Its artistic interests lie in representing the cresses and bumps of human faces, and the struggles for existence in the urban environment. It takes inspiration from Western/ Eastern cartoons and anime, natural sciences books and street photography.

 

 Chrisilia Philiastides

Before entering the shared personal space of the exhibition room, a visual interlude introduces a driving force behind the creation of this project: the need to break free from fixed schemes and to embrace the positives of a challenging situation. Displayed on the entrance wall, the work Escape by Chrisilia Philiastides evokes two opposite and complementary sensations that marked the year 2020: madness and frustration, and giving up control to release the increasing mental pressure. This autobiographical piece is an ode to freedom and resilience, as it “emphasises how, during difficult times, hope can be this force that pulls us out of the darkness and into the light of possibilities”.

Escape, 2020

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Chrisilia Philiastides (b.1999, Larnaca) is currently in the third year of her studies at the University of Glasgow. Her works focus on the human figure through poses captured in the midst of powerful movements, while a selection of colours express specific emotions, highlighting the relationship of the former with the latter.

 

Nicole Mattia

For others, the external environment seems like an enemy from which one must keep at a distance. With Emotional Distancing and Locked in Your Arms, Nicole Mattia investigates the issue of physical distance when loving somebody. Contrary to what we were used to, social distancing represents an act of love, especially towards the most fragile people. Mattia’s images are an imaginary rediscovery of touch. To her, we have all regressed to the state of virgins: shy, clumsy, with a great desire to feel the warmth of another body on our skin.

"Locked in Your Arms" from Memory of Touch series, 2020

"Emotional Distancing" from Memory of Touch series, 2020

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Nicole Mattia (Lodi, 1999) is a Graphic Design and Art Direction student at NABA (Milan), where she is attending her last year. There, she is refining her photography and digital art skills. Her passion for colours drives her to find always a new medium to express her point of view over the world.

Nicole Mattia

For others, the external environment seems like an enemy from which one must keep at a distance. With Emotional Distancing and Locked in Your Arms, Nicole Mattia investigates the issue of physical distance when loving somebody. Contrary to what we were used to, social distancing represents an act of love, especially towards the most fragile people. Mattia’s images are an imaginary rediscovery of touch. To her, we have all regressed to the state of virgins: shy, clumsy, with a great desire to feel the warmth of another body on our skin.

"Locked in Your Arms" from Memory of Touch series, 2020

"Emotional Distancing" from Memory of Touch series, 2020

nicole_mattia.png

Nicole Mattia (Lodi, 1999) is a Graphic Design and Art Direction student at NABA (Milan), where she is attending her last year. There, she is refining her photography and digital art skills. Her passion for colours drives her to find always a new medium to express her point of view over the world.

Troy Holt

The change of pace encouraged Troy Holt to continue his way of approaching photography, that is, as a way to react, as opposed to acting over to environments, and to changes. Holt took pictures of environments’ details  outside of Glasgow that spoke to him, rejecting  the assumption that humans know and control what they are doing constantly, especially in art. With the pandemic, the hierarchies of importance have been displaced. He proposes to think about connection and isolation, humanity and nature, not as binary opposites but instead, as new perspectives that are required to deal with unexpected hardships.

The Body is Here series (1b), 2020

The Body is Here series (1a), 2020

The Body is Here series (2a), 2020

The Body is Here series (6a), 2020

Troy Holt picture artist.jpg

"I started photographing when I was sixteen years old after my father left his camera out on the kitchen table one evening, during a particularly colourful sunset; I was hooked from then on. Since then, photography has been my constant companion and means of making sense of the world. Initially I only photographed landscapes as they are very patient subjects and do not tend to say ‘no’ very often. Later on, I have progressed to become more interested in people, however themes of the environment have persisted and are, in my mind, integral to my work." - Troy Holt, 2020

Troy Holt

The change of pace encouraged Troy Holt to continue his way of approaching photography, that is, as a way to react, as opposed to acting over to environments, and to changes. Holt took pictures of environments’ details  outside of Glasgow that spoke to him, rejecting  the assumption that humans know and control what they are doing constantly, especially in art. With the pandemic, the hierarchies of importance have been displaced. He proposes to think about connection and isolation, humanity and nature, not as binary opposites but instead, as new perspectives that are required to deal with unexpected hardships.

The Body is Here series (1b), 2020

The Body is Here series (1a), 2020

The Body is Here series (2a), 2020

The Body is Here series (6a), 2020

Troy Holt picture artist.jpg

Born in the warm arms of the Devonshire hills circa 1998, Troy Holt currently studies and lives in the marginally colder locale of Glasgow. Having no formal artistic education save for a solitary ‘well done’ from his primary school art teacher, his artistic practice is informed mainly by his friends, music, and what he has had to eat.

Hyesung Im

In her work, Hyesung Im addresses questions surrounding time and memory in relation to her personal experience. Following the sudden death of a friend, Hyesung Im understands ‘death’ as ‘loss’. A loss of a loved one, but ultimately of landmarks, of memories: a deteriorating process caused by time. With Nostalgia's fragmented and selective snapshots, Im is on a personal search for a memory. To help her grandmother who lives in a nursing home, Im empirically captures the corners of her old house, to awaken her memory affected by Alzheimer’s.  She then tries above all to trace her own memory in her portfolio named after Radiohead’s How to Disappear Completely, where she further develops the concept of loss in a space where nature prevails. Finding herself alone in the middle of a deserted Icelandic landscape, the artist perceived the loss of ego and senses in front of a holy yet fierce nature. This series is a personal understanding of disappearance, and an exploration of a type of nature that should not be oppressed by humanity.

How to Disappear Completely series 2 (3042), 2020

How to Disappear Completely series 1 (4251), 2020

How to Disappear Completely series 3 (diamond 1), 2020

How to Disappear Completely series 4 (120C), 2020

Nostalgia series 1, 2020

Nostalgia series 2, 2020

Nostalgia series 3, 2020

Nostalgia series 4, 2020

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Hyesung (b.1998, Jeju, South Korea) is a mathematics student in Seoul. Based on her interests in films and cinematography, she tried to capture the most usual moments in life and change them into something meaningful, traversing fiction and reality.

Sophie Stewart

Above all, the pandemic has brought more free time to people, and the question arises of how to spend it. With her snapshots, Sophie Stewart argues that much of our time is spent waiting: waiting for job opportunities, for financial help from the government, for the vaccine, waiting for some normality and for the virus to be under control. It has become a constant battle to keep ourselves busy. With the Pause series, Stewart speaks for the feelings of isolation and suffocation within her personal environment, due to the overwhelming aspect of having too much free and uncertain time.

Pause I, 2020

Pause III, 2020

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Sophie Stewart (b.1997, Inverness, Scotland) is a multidisciplinary visual artist, currently living and working in Glasgow. Her work challenges the acceptance of constraints caused by modern working conditions, highlighting the effects of precarity on the individual. The aim of her practice is to eradicate feelings of alienation by ‘re-humanising’ the worker and expressing the toll of emotional labour on an individual’s self-worth.

 
 
 
 

Alberto Emiliano Durante

Time also ties in with the past, with ancient stories and collective memory. Fatherland by Alberto Emiliano Durante is the result of a long process of collecting and grouping together ancient clays scattered across an Italian farmland. These elements, collected and forgotten, remained unused for a very long time, like precious tokens of past times and simultaneously shadows of previous lives. In this period of inner research, time began to flow in a new and unexpected way. These entities began to take on a new meaning, not just as symbols of the past, but as pieces of a mosaic that had yet to be completed. By alternating clay fragments with elements that Durante modeled, a new harmony was created in a succession of shapes, colours and voids. Fatherland originated in the past and has materialized now, in a period of suffering and hardship capable nonetheless of generating the circumstances for a small but powerful rebirth.

Fatherland, 2020

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Alberto Emiliano Durante was born in Rome in 1977 and graduated from the Liceo Artistico Statale in Rome. He graduated in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. His works evoke symbologies, myths and archaic figures, proposing them in a contemporary vision where linearity and symmetry.

 
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