Update: The opening date for Within Otherness has been postponed to Oct. 1.
Whether it’s living alone during a lockdown or feeling misunderstood in a room full of people, loneliness is a feeling that, ironically, just about everyone understands. An upcoming art exhibition explores this paradox.
Within Otherness by photographer Glodi Bahati runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 28. It’s a free show curated by Mahlet Cuff and hosted at Take Home BIPOC Arts House at 622-100 Arthur St.
The inspiration for the show’s title came to Bahati while reading an article about otherness that immigrants feel, which she related to after coming to Canada as a refugee, she says.
“The otherness that a lot of immigrant people feel, and the perpetual otherness that loneliness creates, as well – perspective-wise, that’s where I’m coming from with the show,” Bahati says.
“The show really is about embracing that uncomfortable feeling and reveling in your loneliness.”
Over the past year, Bahati learned to embrace her loneliness, which ultimately helped her recognize the importance of connecting with her community, family and friends, she says. She hopes Within Otherness does the same for attendees.
“I want people to face their own loneliness, because I feel like, a lot of the time, we’re running away from it,” she says.
“I think the first step is facing all your loneliness without ... feeling guilty (and) seeing what it shows you about yourself.”
Daniel Perlman is a sessional instructor at the University of Winnipeg teaching psychology. He describes loneliness as basically when folks “feel disconnected from other people.”
In line with Bahati’s hope that the show inspires viewers to approach their own loneliness rather than running from it, Perlman distinguishes between loneliness and solitude, emphasizing solitude’s positive effects.
“Being by yourself has ... what you might think of as refreshing properties,” Perlman says.
When starting out with the work featured in the show, Bahati knew she wanted to explore the theme of loneliness but wasn’t sure how. Speaking with others, researching and reflecting inspired Bahati to write a poem, which became the catalyst for the show. The poem will be performed the opening night on Sept. 27.
A way to overcome loneliness is to be with people who have similar interests and values, because you’re likely to form bonds with them, Perlman says. Additionally, he says enhancing relationships one has also alleviates feelings of loneliness. It’s “what happens with people who are in a community.”
“Simply the act of revealing oneself” can attract people to an artist, because, generally, when we self-disclose, folks react positively, Perlman says.
Revealing herself and creating a reflective, social experience is just what Bahati is doing through her photography. As she writes in the exhibition description, “(to) paraphrase the words of Solange, this is me lifting the veil, I’m ready to be seen. Can you see me now?”
Within Otherness runs from Sept. 27 to Oct. 28 at 622-100 Arthur St. Entry is free.
Published in Volume 76, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 23, 2021)