Despite all that is uncertain right now, one thing is for sure – coronavirus has not eradicated the exhibition experience. The pandemic has, however, left artists and organisers alike faced with the challenge of safely adapting the exhibition experience without losing the unique feeling of witnessing a piece first-hand. The Dublin University Photography Association (DUPA) achieves exactly this with its first online exhibition Home.
In an effort to retain the social aspect of attending an exhibition, Home was launched in August with a celebratory Zoom event. In an email to The University Times, DUPA chair Elžbieta Claassen says that “with any exhibition, our main goal is to offer our members a platform to showcase their work, as well as a way to connect with other people” – something which Home certainly achieves.
The exhibition features submissions from members of DUPA that were compiled over the summer, under the titular theme of “home”. The exhibition coordinator, Niamh Barry, says the theme was inspired by the return of many students to their childhood homes and environments as a result of the March lockdown, and the transformative opportunity for reflection and growth that this adaptation offered. According to Barry, “this time during quarantine has us questioning and reflecting on our own definition of home no matter where we are right now in the world. Is home in a person, place, thing, or even within ourselves? Finding and discovering your feeling or definition of home is, ultimately, an unforgettable journey of self-discovery.”
Finding and discovering your feeling or definition of home is, ultimately, an unforgettable journey of self-discovery.
The impact of the pandemic on students’ daily lives is highlighted by this exhibition in the way that it emphasises how life has slowed down over the past six months. There is also a kind of stillness about the collection, which offers us a reflective insight into intimate parts of people’s daily lives as they returned to their roots. Experiencing a small part of each photographer’s life offers us a sense of the questioning and self-discovery that Barry talks about.
Reflecting upon the theme, Claassen notes that “the home is very personal, so discussing the theme and hearing the stories behind the pictures was very heartwarming to me”. Indeed, the personal nature of DUPA’s exhibition is what makes it so impactful. It turns the ordinary, mundane routine of living at home into something that captures immense beauty and intimacy. The virtual format of the exhibition does not lessen the impact of the works – if anything, they become more accessible as a collection.
The exhibition is displayed through the Kunstmatrix Art Space, an online platform dedicated to creating virtual 3D gallery spaces. Viewers can hop from work to work displayed on the walls of the virtual room, and each artist’s accompanying description can be found through the information button next to each work. This resource leaves nothing of the real-life gallery experience behind, from the artists’ descriptions of the work to the easily navigable gallery space.
Another feature of note is the option to take a so-called guided tour of the exhibition. This automated function brings you around to all of the works in sequence, ensuring you don’t miss anything. One disadvantage of the virtual format is that it is easier to lose track of where you are in the exhibition than it would be in a real-life gallery. However, this is sufficiently mitigated by the guided tour feature, which ensures a complete and seamless experience.
This exhibition showcases the unquestionable talent of DUPA’s contributors in a daring new format, tailored to the world we now live in. Home shows a promising future, not just for DUPA, but for all virtual exhibitions going forward.
Home will remain online indefinitely and can be accessed for free via DUPA’s website.