Arts & Culture

Lockdown Self-Portrait: An Online Exhibition Showcasing the Many Faces of Lockdown

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Lockdown Self-Portrait: An Online Exhibition Showcasing the Many Faces of Lockdown

‘Me, Myself & Mirror’ self-portrait. Photography by Engy Farahat (Egypt).

“The need to ‘create’ has never been of such great importance (as now),” stresses 44-year-old visual artist and curator Rania Ezzat, “this has been a time of introspection for many, and has been a harsh time for some.”

After having been confined to her apartment under lockdown for some time, Ezzat was suddenly inspired to draw a self-portrait. This urge to create and release gave birth to the idea of ‘Lockdown Self-Portrait’, an online exhibition in which Ezzat aims to collect various self-portraits from artists around the world and showcase them on a mutual online platform. 

These artworks are special in that they all reflect on various people’s experiences whilst on lockdown during the pandemic. They reflect the feelings one has been going through during strange and difficult times. “This project is a simple platform to show the outcome of this experience,” explains Ezzat, “How all that thinking, and the overload of the human mind can positively turn into creation.”

This being a universal experience and not wanting to limit the project to just Egyptian artists, Ezzat released a worldwide open call to which artists from Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada have responded too as well as Egyptians. 

‘My Little Things’ self-portrait. Gouache, pencil and acrylic on paper by Rania Khallaf (Egypt).

“Art is a universal language. Each country has their own ‘cultural footprint’ that reflects on their art,” says Ezzat, “It does not matter where you come from or what school of art you belong to or whether you are self-taught, the goal is to show that side of us that we all share at this particular moment.”

In addition to having already received a number of replies from all across the globe since her open call announcement last month, Ezzat also leaves the criteria for the project open without being too strict about applications. “The criteria of choosing the artwork is based on how genuine the artist was in succeeding to present himself, based on how he felt or is feeling at this particular time,” she says. 

From photography to paintings and videos, there have been a multitude of interesting and diverse pieces submitted thus far, each uniquely and intimately presenting the artist’s state of mind during lockdown. Perhaps what is most noteworthy about ‘Lockdown Self-Portrait’ is the fact that these pieces truly act as a window to the complexity of the human mind – which is ultimately something everyone can relate to. 

‘Bird Call’ self-portrait. Hand-cut banana fiber paper by Debjani Bhardwaj (Indian, based in Oman).

We have all been going through a roller coaster of emotions and feelings and confusion, yet this period has made us realize that we are all in this together and that we are all a lot more connected and similar than we may come to realize. 

“I hope both participants and observers could feel rather than think,” says Ezzat of the project, “Try to realize the bigger picture, that we live in one world and it does not matter who you are, what you think yourself to be or have achieved nor which country you are born in.”

“Being all ‘locked down’, we remembered our humanity, our compassion and our idiocies too. If this humble and simple project can attempt to approach this notion, then it has succeeded,” she concludes. 

Check out Lockdown Self-Portrait on Facebook and Instagram.

‘Scanning Myself for Impurities’ self-portrait. Photography by Jalal Abuthina (Irish/Libyan, based in Dubai).

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