THEY are images that reflect an extraordinary moment in time and how people and communities have changed during the pandemic.
People wearing masks while shopping or taking solitary walks have become a familiar sight as the country has lived with lockdown after lockdown. It was this period of all our lives that proved to be the inspiration for documentary filmmaker, singer and author Marianne Dissard.
And they will now be on display when she opens her first UK solo exhibition in the city today at the Glasgow Gallery of Photography in Glassford Street.
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Dissard found herself alone in Kent with her singing tour canceled and a long winter ahead.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic and Brexit in the background, the French-born singer turned to street photography to make sense of her immediate world.
Marianne Dissard says she is inspired by her new hometown and is already working on another project. Photograph by Colin Mearns.
Over the next 18 months, Dissard then collected a clairvoyant snapshot of life in the corner of England’s southeast coast known as the Isle of Thanet, which she later called home.
However, after only a few months of living in Glasgow, she is already thinking about her next project which could take inspiration from the heart of the city – the River Clyde.
“I’ve only been in Glasgow for a few months, but I felt so welcome here and already at home. And inspired. So much so that I am now working on a new series inspired by the River Clyde, from source to sea,” said Dissard.
While Glasgow may be her home now, she left the US for England two years ago and it gave her a place to create.
Marianne Dissard pictured at the Glasgow Gallery of Photography in Glassford Street, Glasgow. Photograph by Colin Mearns.
The center of the exhibition, Thanet, which has not been an island since the Middle Ages, is made up of the seaside towns of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, as well as several small surrounding villages.
However, Dissard said the region is so close to his homeland, “on a clear day you can see the French coast across the Channel”.
Dissard lived in Tucson, Arizona for three decades before moving to the UK. She moved from Kent to Glasgow in early 2022. The multi-talented artist is now set to hold her first solo exhibition in the UK, showcasing her Thanet photographs in the city.
On a Good Day, You Can See France opens at the Glasgow Gallery of Photography on Glassford Street and runs until Thursday 25 August.
Images of how everyday life has changed during the pandemic will now feature in an exhibition in Glasgow
The opening of Dissard’s exhibition and accompanying book launch in the downtown gallery will take place tomorrow to coincide with the start of the annual Merchant City Festival.
His photographs, taken during daily walks around his place of residence, from October 2020 until the start of the mass vaccination program in early 2021, include surreal cityscapes, a decimated main street and disturbing portraits of residents.
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Given his background as a documentarian, photographer and performer, the artist envisions an immersive multimedia approach to Glasgow spectacle in the form of Planet Thanet.
Planet Thanet will see Dissard take over the two floors of the gallery to create an installation building on the themes of the exhibition. For this Glasgow show, Dissard will once again be working with his longtime friend and collaborator, Parisian set designer Bastien Forestier.
He has worked on countless theater and opera premieres in Europe, as well as the recent Taschen edition of Peter Lindbergh’s On Fashion Photography for a series of photographs with Ukrainian model-turned-actress Milla Jovovich.
There will also be a weekly series of live performances by Thanet artists; including Dissard, Lunatraktors, a ‘broken folk’ duo from Margate, Kent, and spoken word and musical performances by Megan Garrett-Jones.
Marianne Dissard captured footage in Kent and will not be exhibited in Glasgow
On Saturday August 20, Dissard will discuss On a Good Day, You Can See France during a special evening at the gallery. She will also read excerpts from her powerful 2019 memoir, Not Me. Described as “viscerally, brutally honest,” the book is an account of Dissard’s struggle with bulimia while pursuing a successful career as a songwriter. – performer on tour.
“This won’t be your typical photography exhibit,” Dissard said. “My friend Bastien and I will use scenography and storytelling techniques honed in my latest public installations in Kent and Paris.
“Our installation will use a mixture of standard gallery frames, cardboard frames, new and recycled posters, large direct-to-metal prints, videos, and various urban and coastal materials.
Music was also important to Dissard and after a degree in film production from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, she moved to Tucson, Arizona, initially pursuing a career as a documentary filmmaker. Encouraged by Joey Burns of Calexico to sing, she recorded several albums of original music in Tucson, her first, L’entredeux, composed by Burns himself.
The images were captured by Marianne Dissard during the pandemic
For a decade she toured the world supported by members of Giant Sand, XIXA, Calexico and Orkesta Mendoza.
Her latest album, Rappel, produced by Raphael Mann, was released in April 2022. She is joined on upcoming European theater dates in 2022 by Glasgow’s Andy Alston of Del Amitri on keyboard and James Kirk of Orange Juice on guitar.