Dear Diary


Written by Jo vdD
10 Monday 10th May 2010


Bringing together diaries written by the likes of Kurt Cobain and Sylvia Plath with those of a South African teenager and a collection of journals from unknown British writers relating both the World Wars, Dear Diary is the perfect exhibition for those who, like me, are a little bit nosy.
Containing diaries from a cross section of humanity, the exhibition’s spine was supplied by Irving Finkel from his collection of dairies of unknowns from throughout the last century. These sit alongside contributions from the slums of Nairobi giving us candid insights into the day-to-day lives, hopes and aspirations of a generation of Kenyan teenagers.
Dear Diary is presented by Ctrl. Alt. Shift., an organisation founded by Katrin Osuwu as a “result of looking at a new way of engaging generation Z in the issues of global development and social justice. It's about raising awareness, exposing those structures that perpetuate poverty and injustice, and then encouraging action that will bring about tangible change for the worlds poorest."
Osuwu, who also curated Dear Diary, chose to create an exhibition based around diaries because the intimacy they have doesn’t exist in any other literary form. “I think that allows us to get closer to the subjects”, she explains. “We are trying to show the similarities we share, whatever our circumstances. We are trying to highlight that whatever our situations, and wherever we are in the world, we share a common humanity that is surprising and fascinating.”
No exhibition of diaries would be complete without an extract from the journals of Anaïs Nin, the famous French diarist. “Her fearless investigation of herself, the issue of sexuality as well as her fierce determination to challenge convention and bring about change is the essence of what Ctrl.Alt.Shift sets out to do [and] is something we very much admire.”
For Twin Peak fans the star attraction will undoubtedly be an extract from Laura Palmer's diary. “Twin Peaks was a cultural phenomenon, and it is interesting to note that Laura Palmer, who is at the heart of the series, was based on Marilyn Monroe after David Lynch scrapped a film project based on her life story. There is something very resonant and mythological about her as a character that really affected a generation of teenagers. Central to the plot was Laura's secret diary - we liked the idea of including fantasy diaries as well. The diary was originally written by Lynch's daughter Jennifer, and we are really excited that she got onboard.”

The diary of Dan Eldon, a photojournalist based in Somalia, is another feature of the exhibition. “After his tragic death at 22 on the front line in Mogadishu his mother Kathy published his extraordinary journals and they have become a phenomenon. He was Kenyan, and his energy and political commitment are something that we admire very much. We wanted to use his story to inspire and encourage this generation to explore their feelings and make sense of the world around them.”

This exhibition looks to be an extraordinary insight into the lives of other people, reminding us how much we all have in common. Check the exhibition out at Gallery Seven in Covent Garden until the 23 May.

For more information on Ctrl. Alt. Shift check out their website.


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