We are nearing the end of this strange and special year, 2020. Time to reflect on the status quo. 20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.
Sofie Lattré had already obtained a master’s degree in architecture and liberal arts from LUCA School of Arts. She works full-time at NUCLEO, a non-profit organization that finds workplaces for visual artists. “The demand for this is great: many artists — photographers, painters, sculptors, illustrators, audio or performance artists — struggle financially. We support them by offering affordable, high-quality spaces in empty buildings.” Yet it still lacked a theoretical framework. That is why she is now following two art history courses at Ghent University.
How was 2020 for you?
“I started studying again in September. I am following two courses from the first bachelor of art sciences… this gives me an overview of the visual arts from 1300 to now. We are flying through the seven centuries really quickly! But it is very interesting to get that context. I missed the historical overview of everything. The lockdown accelerated my plans to study again. Without the long list of ‘to dos’ in the evenings and weekends, I can focus much better: I’ve been able to throw myself into my studies and can spend hours working.”
What achievement over the past year are you most proud of?
“That I have started studying again. This has made me better at my job. In my spare time I am a guide. In the past I approached this work mainly from the artists’ perspective. In the Dhondt-Dhaenens museum I noticed that a fellow guide, who had studied art, could provide much more context about a certain style or period. Now I can also add that theoretical background. Earlier styles are also often a source of inspiration for contemporary artists. With my newly acquired baggage I can quickly find references to the past, which helps as a background in conversations with artists at NUCLEO.”
What do you want to bring with you into 2021?
“I want to keep making time to dig into things. In the spring I noticed that I really missed cultural performances. I want to make more time for that in the future and no longer have it dependent on my diary. Or read a book every weekend. But maybe I shouldn’t put a number on it, because it’ll just become something else to stress about (laughs). De-stressing is a common thread, and discovering things. In itself I have not missed the fact that the shops were closed. On the other hand, when I was allowed to give guided tours again, I felt so privileged that I had been given the time to tell people about artists. You felt that everyone was happy and wanted it. I am now more aware of this: how fantastic it is when someone asks a question and an exhibition creates a connection between people. Is that corny?”
Suppose you could go back to January 2020. Would you have done something different?
“Maybe I would have organized a party so that I could be sure to have everyone together again. And dance a little more. Corona has shown who you can count on. You learn a lot about your friendships and relationships.”
Last year was like no other, but it was also filled with warmth. We supported each other and shared in each other’s ups and downs. Now this is your chance to thank everyone who was there for you. Not in the usual way, but with a virtual projection of your best wishes onto the Book Tower.
Who do you most admire at Ghent University?
“Professor Maximilian Martens. I deliberately chose a course that he taught. I already knew him from his lectures on the Ghent Altarpiece. He gave it with heart and soul, really fascinating. It is the same with his lessons. I also enjoy the eighteen-year-olds who are now starting to study. When we had to be on campus for a class, I got talking to a fellow student. He thought it was such a shame that the corona measures prevented me from really feeling the atmosphere at the faculty. But I was more concerned about him: I already have a social life in Ghent, but he had arrived in a new city and was unable to make contact with fellow students.”
What do you wish other people at Ghent University in 2021?
“Many more warm hugs, so that we forget the word social distancing as soon as possible! As soon as it is possible again: grab each other and ask how everything is. And take time to do the things that please you.”
20 people with links to Ghent University were selected at random. They tell us what 2020 meant to them, what they will carry over to next year and above all: what they hope for in 2021.