Artist Blog

Every week an artist whose single image was published by Der Greif is given a platform in which to blog about contemporary photography.

Time Gap. A recent graduate on self-isolation.

Apr 25, 2020 - Giulia Parlato

I’ve been self-isolating since the 10th of March and certainly the current spread of Covid-19 is having a massive impact in my life too. Some days it’s hard to stay positive and find ways to be productive during this horrible time. When I graduated from my MA in July 2019, I had a certain idea of what 2020 had to look like. I wanted to secure myself a job, keep pushing my practice and be able to afford being in London, which we all know is not exactly the cheapest city.  It wasn’t easy before and now I know it’ll be even harder to go back to the position I was in before this all happened. Having so much time to think, not knowing what is gonna happen scares me. For my all life I had a plan and I stuck to it. 2020 is for me a year of confrontation.


I had to confront myself with massive failures related to job applications, grants and residencies. I worked in a restaurant for a while in order to be able to be in London while applying for art jobs (most of which I wasn’t even interested in) and I was frustrated. In the end it felt I had no time. No time to apply for things that mattered properly, no time to see exhibitions, no time to take pictures and no time to see people I love. I wanted to find a new routine as quickly as possible and release my parents from the financial support they are offering me. I was trapped in a vortex of anxiety without even realising it.


Like myself, many other artists without an established practice and a secure job are in the same position of uncertainty and fear. We are forced to keep up with the art industry’s speed not to be left behind. This, as we know, is the main difference between art school and real world. In art school, society demands you to focus on your ideas and to make work. In the real world you are lucky if you have time to make work.


2020 is also a year of confrontation because all these dynamics have been temporarily erased and due to the pandemic we are suddenly confronted with forced free time.


What to do with this free time? 


I’ve realised if I wanted to stay positive, I had to prioritise my practice again and spend my days doing what I was unable to focus on in the past months. It is something we can all do and which we could benefit from when this weird period will be over and we will have to go back to our daily duties.


Here is my list of ideas:


  • Apply for Residencies


There are a lot of residencies you can chose from and it is important to genuinely think about what would be beneficial to your practice. Making an application for a residency you are truly interested in, motivates you to spend time writing a good proposal. It takes a lot of effort to come up with a strong proposal and it’s time consuming. I’ve never been accepted to any residency I’ve applied to. My applications were often unnecessarily rushed due to the lack of time while now I have nothing to run to, so I’m motivated to sit down and really do my best. This could grant you an exciting opportunity to look forward to in the future and if not, it’s necessary exercise. The more you practice the better you get right?


  • Contact people you admire


Something I’m not so great at is networking. Have you ever had that feeling of not wanting to disturb? It happens to me with highly successful people in the art industry, who are always surrounded by crowds at private views, which makes it impossible to say hello even when we might know each other. And let’s be honest, everyone needs and wants help from these people. To me the idea of stepping up, introducing myself and starting a conversation during one of these events, is overwhelming. Therefore my strategy has always been either waiting for the perfect alignment of the planets or contacting everyone through email. This strategy as you can imagine, wasn’t the most successful and I soon had to confront the fact that people usually don’t have time to reply to every single email. Right now however, even busy people are going through lockdown and adjusting their routine accordingly, therefore it could be a good moment to try and reach out. Contact someone who you think can be useful to meet. You could even suggest a video call to get to know each other. They might be open to help and answer your questions. 


  •  Study and write down a shooting list


Now more than ever you finally have the time to conduct research that can inform your practice or push you towards new directions. 


Listen to music, watch movies, enter museum virtual tours and see if anything sparks your imagination. Try to visualise images in your head and start writing a long shooting list. It doesn’t have to be linked to a series of images but you’ll end up with a lot of ideas to use in the future. You’ll never know what it can lead to. 


  • Write a short story or a longer text to go with your series of images


As a photographer, I’ve never had a text longer than 1000 words to accompany my images. I have infinite pages with notes and quotes I take during research, but I always end up with a condensed and structured piece of writing. My boyfriend Matthew, who is also a photographer, had this great idea to write a whole short story about his work. I find it to be so interesting and useful to go deeper into the subjects and keep reflecting on themes in search of new meanings and possibilities. We should take inspiration from him, look back at our images and write freely about anything that comes to mind. It’s a wonderful exercise to unlock hidden potentials a project could hold.


  • Contact Magazines


Photo editors etc. are constantly looking for content. It’s harder for those people to discover new works and artists, since they can’t go to shows and events. Email them and offer your work. Their job is finding interesting artists to feature every month. If you are the one reaching out, you are basically making their job easier. If they are interested in your work, they will publish it.


To conclude, we are living a turning point in human history and some stuff will change after this Worldwide crisis. No one knows what to expect and we just have to act responsibly and wait, indoors. In the meantime, as someone once told me:” do one small thing related to photography every day and see what happens”.