BARRUCCO’S PORTRAITS IN A TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
An installation on the third floor of the Ottawa Art Gallery depicts 114 Zoom screenshots side by side. These aren’t just random screenshots — they are carefully crafted portraits.
The mind behind the installation, University of Ottawa M.F.A. alumnus Angelina Barrucco, captures portraits of various subjects, both strangers and acquaintances, through the online platform during periods of isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic. Each photograph is a diptych that displays the subject and the space across from the subject.
There’s a sense of loneliness throughout the diptychs as we realize the empty space beside each portrait depicts all the places Barrucco would have been to take the photographs if COVID-19 didn’t shun us all into isolation. We feel her absence because we expect her presence. However, Barrucco shows a gleam of innovation by bringing these portraits together and she points to an evolution in the artistic process as a result of the global pandemic.
Each photo of the installation is a window into the lives and homes of others. Although each subject is separate, when placing the diptychs side by side, Barrucco captures a sense of community. They all have something in common: their isolation. And paradoxically, it’s their collective isolation which brings them together in this artwork, pointing to the catch-22 of online communities.
The diversity of faces and homes remind us of how we’re different, but also similar. Some of the photographs are individual portraits while others are family portraits. Although the subjects may be in different poses and angles, they’re all enclosed in the four walls of their homes, interacting with the outside world from their computer screens. In the photos, there’s an undercurrent of silence and reflection upon the new world order that resulted from the pandemic.
Barrucco’s project is a record of our lives defined by video calls and technology. She paves the way for new methods of photography. As she freezes these strange moments in time, she discovers innovative methods for depicting our individual realities.
Barrucco’s installation makes us wonder about the future of social interaction. How do we understand community spaces in digital contexts? How will the isolating periods of COVID-19 impact us as individuals and as a collective? Questions like these reflect our mutual apprehension of a future that may no longer require face-to-face interaction.
Angelina Barrucco’s Portraits In a Time of Social Distancing is on display at the Ottawa Art Gallery Sky Lounge Level 3 until Nov. 20, 2022.