Please Believe These Days Will Pass

Please Believe These Days Will Pass is an animation work by Mark Titchner. Initially developed as part of a 2012 residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the piece took on a new and powerful meaning in 2020 when, during lockdown, it was chosen by ad agency Jack Arts for display on hundreds of empty billboards across the UK. In its new incarnation, the piece sent out a timely and much-needed message at a difficult time. With this exclusive new work for Sedition, Titchner extends the message to smartphones, tablets and smart TVs.

"A key element of my practice as an artist is the collection and creation of texts. I’ve worked with hundreds of them. Of this number there are a small group that I think of as key texts. These are the words that I have found myself returning to over the years. They are phrases that have attached themselves to me and can manifest themselves in new ways and situations.

In 2012 whilst Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto I produced an exhibition entitled ‘Please believe these days will pass’. The title referred to both my personal situation and the political climate in the city, specifically the transgressions of its then Mayor. Again in 2016 in the wake of the Brexit referendum result I returned to these words to produce a new poster. In 2020 as the UK moved towards its first Lockdown I saw that images of these works beginning to appear on social media their meaning now clearly tied to the rise of the pandemic. Then a few days later by chance I received a call and an opportunity presented by the ad agency Jack Arts to produce a new artwork for vacant advertising sites across the UK. It seemed the decision had been made for me and the time was right to return to ‘Please believe these days will pass'.

The subsequent artwork appeared on hundreds of billboard and posters sites in cities across the UK. At first I saw images shared on social media but then quickly the artwork, especially if complimented by a passerby wearing a face mask, became widely used by news outlets around the world. My experience of this, as everyone else’s, was entirely vicarious and through the screen. It was a month before I actually saw one of the posters in place. Something about the artwork seemed to chime with the sense of hope that was needed in those early days of the pandemic as we found ourselves in this strange new world, our familiar streets now feeling utterly alien. In the best way the work took on a life of its own and I happily watched it grow in ways that I could never have imagined.

It’s now nearly the end of this terrible year and I’m thinking about this artwork again. This time to return it to the screen and to animate it. Often when I’m beginning a piece I’m thinking in quite an abstract way about the emotions or sensations that I would like it to convey. With the 2020 poster I remember thinking that I wanted it to feel transportive, to take one far away from the here and now. Something like the feeling of the hot sun on your neck or warm water on your toes in a far away place. This is the feeling that I want to return to with this new video. An ever shifting and mirage like presence, constantly dissolving and reforming as words appear and fade. A presence that is both demonstrative and reassuring. Something that is rapturous and bright in contrast to these darkest of days we all hope will pass very soon" - Mark Titchner.

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