'BLISS: A CELEBRATION OF YOUTH CULTURE IN THE CAPITAL (2021)'
18.08.21 - 20.02.21
Photography exhibition by Félice Knol celebrating the rebirth of collective energy and joy among young creatives in London
‘It is an important time, a revival of collective happiness, making up for the time we have been stuck inside. Some in difficult domestic situations; it is for those who find peace in their chosen family, rather than the one into which they have been born.’
"This solo-exhibition amplifies the voices of London City’s youth, after a time of silence. It is focused on the rebirth and recurring of collective energy and joy. Musicians, actors, performers and artists are out again, ready to be seen. It is a crucial time for young people to meet like-minded spirits and to be able to express themselves freely. Ways of dressing and make-up are also means of communication, and a form of art. Big boots, big hair, big gestures: explicit and outspoken.
In her analog photography Félice Knol tries to translate this feeling: a capturing of the times in this diverse city. A capturing of beautiful, important individuals, who may have not always been heard, and seen. Youth is the future: their dreams, optimism and guts. This project is about -and for- those who have felt left out, and are ready to again show themselves to the world." *
Below is an excerpt from a conversation I had with Félice about her upcoming exhibition:
M: You have a degree in sociology, how does this project connect to that?
F: I think it's very closely connected to my sociology background because it comes from this idea of empathy through interaction and human contact. I was always looking at the interaction between art and social sciences. Although this exhibition is completely photography based, I don't see myself as just a photographer. I don't like limiting myself to one medium.
I am a social person, and what I've seen around me through lockdown, because of social media and because of the way that our political systems are arranged now, it seems as if all the divisions and gaps between people become bigger. That’s because there's no interaction. Everyone's in their own algorithm and their own group.
This situation, in which everyone's just by themselves, can be problematic. Especially for young people developing an identity, it’s very important that they are exposed to different people, and interact with each other. That’s also what first attracted me to London, that it's a migrant city. There's people from everywhere, which makes it easier to feel at home.
That mixture of people was also what I saw in my photography. The way I approach people and the reason I take photos is because they have something that interests me, or they wear certain things or do certain things. That was what I wanted to show in the photos as well, the incredible diversity of people in this city and incredible energy. There's so many amazing, talented artists and musicians and they're just everywhere.
The project grew organically. I didn't come here with the setup plan, I just started taking photos. It's always very powerful to see people being themselves and being free and expressing themselves, dressing extravagantly, that makes me very happy. This city can be a safe space, or create safe spaces.
M: Yeah, and I think there's such an importance of the physical space, especially of nightlife that has always been that hub for people to kind of meet each other, and to have exactly the interaction you don't have when you're in lockdown and you're online.
F: The clubs have been opened here and parties that I've been at, people are so happy to be able to do this again and it's not just about going crazy and losing yourself. I think that's such a big misunderstanding. It's not about that. People are there to enjoy the music, or dance, or interact with others, or just to express themselves. You know, there’s things that don't happen during the day that do at night. It's a different space. A different mindset. I think it's so important, especially when you're young, to be able to go out and have different impulses. You need some sort of mirroring and reflection of other people in order to become your own person.
M: Yeah, a space to explore. What was your idea when you were putting the photos together, what was that process like?
F: The show has both photos of nightlife and daytime, but there is some sort of flow, going through nighttime and then towards day, and night again. They interact with each other and I tried to make it feel like it's one unity and not just a bunch of different photos. But everything is taken with the same analog camera. It's quite funny because I bought that camera for like what, 1.50 Euros at a charity shop, and it was a gamble if it was going to work, but it's so good. It's insane that I can print photos big format and they’re still relatively good. Well, not relatively. It's good quality. But yeah, that's the setup of the exhibition. I am really trying to make it feel as if you're part of what's going on.
M: Did you take all the photos in the past few months?
F: Yeah, the photos have been taken in this summer. From June until a few weeks ago. I really had my mind set on doing the exhibition this summer because it feels like such a moment specific thing. Everyone is here now, meeting each other, and we don't know what the next few months will be like. The show is really about that: celebrating this specific moment in time, together.
Félice Knol (1998) has always been fascinated by human interaction and social behavior, themes that she often includes in her artistic practice. While studying Sociology at the University of Amsterdam this interest got fueled and grew. We are born into different unequal systems, which shape the world around us. Interaction and physical, real-life contact have been proven to be a gateway to empathy, and are essential in finding common ground and mutual understanding. This belief has laid the foundations of this project: it is a manifestation, and celebration, of reconnecting energy.
* Text by Félice Knol