When Charlene Galea studied photography at London College of Fashion in 2013, the art of partying was like a religious, cathartic ceremony every weekend.
Eight years on and one pandemic later, social gatherings are off the table. Now, her work capturing parties stands in a new, sombre light: mourning those nights we don’t remember in the morning.
She says the state of the world is what pushed her to publish this work.
“I don’t ever release the things I capture at parties immediately after – I like to bring them out after some time, to see how our memory distorts the reality of those nights we barely remember. I’m very grateful that I captured these moments, especially now,” the visual artist explained.
“There’s this strange feeling looking at them, looking back at these parties. I didn’t think we ever thought we’d be where we are now, without parties,” Galea mused.
For Galea, partying isn’t just an act of self-indulgence, it’s a bonding ritual, a chance for strangers to come together and shed their shells, a sacred space.
“Even the time leading up to it: choosing your outfit, what part of your identity you want to show off, getting ready to dance to music with your friends… it’s all a part of the ritual.”
“You’re adding a twist of identity – your party outfit is basically historical,” Galea continued, adding that she has dozens of outfits worn for special events that she’ll never part with.
As we look at these partying bodies caught on film cameras, it’s an act of mourning, but also a reminder that they will return. Hopefully, we can all hit up clubs again with a sense of gratitude for what was lost.
Her work involved hundreds of parties and spans across continents – from Malta, to Barcelona, London, Mexico, Netherlands and Tunisia.
“When I’m travelling, I’m always looking for people. The parties are all different, but they’re all the same in a way. It’s a celebration, a closeness of bodies. Suddenly, you’re in a room, there’s music, you’re part of something bigger than you, in a place full of people wanting to let go.”
Despite the disruption caused by COVID-19, Galea thinks it was a good time to take a moment to reflect.
“Parties are just a part of me – I’ve met a lot of my friends there, I’ve found love in clubs, danced, laughed, cried with people you forget about the next day. But I do think it was good to be given a moment to pause. Now I can’t wait till we can all join each other again.”
If you want to catch Charlene Galea’s work, check it her photography exhibition out on 26th and 27th December organised by https://www.
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