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Artist Ian Berry’s Upcoming Exhibition Features Denim Professionals in Isolation

Before the world was forced into isolation as a result of COVID-19, Ian Berry turned the concept of solitude into art.

In 2016, the London-based artist debuted his “Behind Closed Doors” show—what he considers his most powerful collection—featuring photographs of “perfect, almost ‘Elle Decoration’-style homes, but juxtaposed with scenes of loneliness” that he adapted into unique denim creations. His work, which turned him into a key player in the denim industry, led to his nomination as one of Rivet’s 50 most influential denim figures in 2019.

This year, he had planned on revisiting his popular work, and scheduled photo shoots in people’s homes for original art that he would then adapt to denim and showcase in museums.

But the coronavirus had other plans for him.

The week of the photo shoots turned out to be the first week of lockdown in London, forcing Berry to re-strategize. What he came up with was “Stay Behind Closed Doors,” a collection of user-submitted photographs of themselves in isolation. He plans to adapt some into his signature denim pieces, while others will stand alone as photographs.

“I think we are all interested in how people are getting through this period,” Berry told Rivet. “It should be documented.”

Also included in the exhibit will be a “denim wall,” featuring photographs of industry professionals in isolation. Art will be shown in the Museum Rijswijk in The Netherlands, and at Berry’s shows throughout Germany, Sweden and the U.K.

“I arranged with the curator to show photos in a separate room in the museum so hopefully in November, we can look back on this period,” he added.

While the pandemic has stirred up emotions, Berry doesn’t intend for the images to be as melancholic as his previous work. In fact, he predicts they might carry a subtly optimistic message.

“I think many would privately say they have enjoyed this period—reconnecting and spending more time with their family, even having fun with them or their friends they are isolating with,” he said. “So, it need not be melancholic.”

Berry is foregoing any formal call for submissions, noting that he’s already received an influx of photos by word-of-mouth. He and the museum’s curator will work on selecting the images for feature.