Portraits taken during the Covid-19 pandemics through webcams.
Now on show at Format International Photography Festival! See it online at
www.formatfestival.com in Room 06. Chiara and Rosario | Roma, Italy | From Chiara: "A window. The gaze runs outside, in the attempt to understand what season we are in, what is happening to the trees. At lockdown day number 56, the hours start to look all the same. Our steps follow the same path as the day before, now automatic: bed, desk, kitchen, bathroom, bed again. We work or keep ourselves busy, waiting to be able to fill the time again. But the quarantine, like an avalanche, has swept us together and blocked us, together, in this limbo where life has stopped.And together, we try to get it right, for what we can: we invent things, situations, we tell stories. We improvise chefs and cook everything, even what we had never tried before. We sing at the top of our lungs, we dance, we spend the night making plans, imagining what our life will be like next.The distance worries us, it pushes us to contact our loved ones more often, to try to do everything anyway: to live, nonetheless. And while we wait, we lose ourselves in an embrace, that embrace that is now everything, the only physical contact that remains yet allowed." Frank | Esslingen, Germany | From Frank: "Freely based on the song “The sound of silence” by Simon and Garfunkel, the loneliness and calm that the Coronavirus brought offers a welcome opportunity to engage in deeper reflections. To think and go to the root of many issues and problems of the “ordinary” everyday life. And what place is better for this than an empty shared flat?
These rooms usually vibrate. Doors fall, voices ring, people come and go. And now? Everything calm, everything ponders, everything is relaxed. The world seems to take a breath, to calm down, to rearrange itself. Old practices fall overboard, new ones emerge. So the days go by in an indefinite sequence of reading texts, sleeping, eating and the occasional forest run. One is reminded of a monk's life or of Daniel Dafoe's stories, in which loneliness can reveal itself as a creative force that sets new movements in motion. The clock seems to be set to zero. If it strikes again, it does so with another beat." Claudio and Paola | Verona, Italy | From Paola: “In this room, my husband, who was ill with Covid-19, lived in solitary confinement for 29 days and fought hard alone against the virus. I would bring him food in front of his closed door, so as not to be infected, and I would talk to him on the phone. It has been a winning strategy, but a terrible and very painful experience.” Agnes, Vadim and Lielle | Oxford, UK | From Agnes: " We are part of the “lucky ones”. Those who still have their job and can work from their bedroom. Those who can afford to slow down in a world where everything always accelerates. Those who have a backyard and can enjoy the setting sun. Those surrounded by nature to reconnect with and get energised from. Those who have each other to spend loving quality time with. Those who, everyday, and more than ever before, are grateful for what they have... " Marco and Federico | London, UK | From Federico: "When Chiara took this photo, I was experiencing the pandemic as a privileged person. I have a partner who loves me, a house just for the two of us, two adorable dogs, a job that I can do from home ... 'You really don't have anything to complain about' I thought.
Then, the next day, I learned that my mother will soon undergo heart surgery. I will not be able to return to Italy and be close to her and to my dad because of the restrictions on international travel... This gives me a sense of frustration and unfairness. Not so much for me, but for them, who are now old and must always fend for themselves.
Covid-19 literally cut my wings. If there is one thing we can thank it for, is that it helps us appreciate what we usually take for granted, such as freedom of movement." James and Kan | London, UK | From James: "Ordinarily, I value spending leisure time outside, together with friends – walking in London’s green spaces or the countryside – however, when the UK went into lock-down, I spent 49 days without leaving home, and found that I adapted to the new situation surprisingly easily. Recognising the wide range of emotional responses to the restrictions, I reflected on my own. By nature, I can be cautious, and I certainly recognised that aspect of my personality.
I am deeply concerned about the impacts of climate change, and I recognised, in my response to COVID19, parallels in approaching a wide-scale crisis - a willingness to make immediate changes in the hope of a long-term positive outcome. " Anna | Treviso, Italy | From Anna: "In this quarantine, loneliness knocked on my door and taught me to appreciate even more the technological tools that bring us closer to the people we love.
I have never made so many video calls as in this time.
I lived in a deserted city, and experienced an everyday life in which I left home exclusively to go to work and to buy groceries.
It made me rediscover the beauty of simple things like eating an ice cream, going for a walk or drinking a coffee in a bar.
But what I hope this time will teach us is the importance and the beauty of relationships: rediscovering the taste of being with your family and friends and having the courage to express our feelings to them. Because it is the most precious thing we can give." Valentina, Matteo, Camillo, Leonardo and Anastasia | Trento, Italy | From Valentina: "60 days.
60 long days without shoes, without mud, without grass, without friends, without time.
60 long days barefooted, with the world through the window, with the sun on a balcony, with the family 24/7, with school at home, with brother and sister fights.
60 long days, which have been a journey within ourselves, towards our limits and beyond our desires.
60 long days and now? Ready for a new life in the world, stronger than before. " Francesco and Irene | Padova, Italy | From Irene: “We decided to move in together in December. We entered in this house in early March, and we didn't expect we would find ourselves caught in the midst of a pandemic. The moving remained halfway and we were unable to get some homeware that were missing, because the sale of non-essential products was not allowed. We feared that this experience would wear us out, but in reality it united us much more, by surrounding us with only essential things and more intense feelings. The house is small, clashes happen easily, but we have learned to handle this situation for better or worse. The bed is the most beautiful place in the apartment, where we can live moments of intimacy and not. And even when we get back to normal, the fact that we shared such an intense and unique experience will remain an important part of our love story.” Cristina | Verona, Italy | From Cristina: "At first, the quarantine has been quite destabilizing for me. I am a routine person, and not being able to carry out my usual activities anymore has broken my rythm.
I certainly suffer even more from not being able to have lunch with mom and dad on Saturdays, and from not being able to hug my little nephews. I have seen them recently in videocall: their faces are changing, they are growing up, after two months you can already see the difference...
I miss human contact with people, like being able to put my arm on a friend's shoulder or kiss each other when we say goodbye. I never thought of it, but to express our affection we touch our loved ones often, every time we see them. Or at least we are very close, just think how small a table for four people is ... I am lucky, though: having my boyfriend at my side makes it easier, because we support each other. When one is sad, the other covers him with love, and vice versa. I hope to get out of the quarantine enriched with new knowledge and certainly with an awareness in more of what matters in life: time and relationships. Because I understood that it does not matter if you are rich or poor, in the face of a pandemia we are al equal, we have all the same resources." Christian and Lorene | Karlsruhe, Germany | From Lorene: “While being scared of the danger and of the consequences this threatening situation has been creating for all of us - as individuals and our society as a whole - the poem “Pandemic” by Lynn Ungar has inspired me to still look for the potential this crisis is holding.
Indisputably, being separated from our loved ones has been extremely difficult and frustrating at times. We can’t wait to be able to hug them and spend quality time together again. However, “centering down” on the one hand and knowing “that we are connected in ways that are terrifying and beautiful” on the other, has allowed us to explore our lives from new perspectives. To appreciate what has been taken for granted, and – instead of feeling paralyzed – to defy given limitations by working with them and turning them into a source of creativity and hope.
We have been using the resources available to us to “reach out”, but have also come to realize that sometimes it is soothing not to rush from one appointment to another, but to take some time to step back and experience contentment from within – at all levels.” Irene, Remi and Andrea | Paris, France | From Irene: “Living in 40sqm apartment without a garden nor a terrace, with a 11 months old baby has been challenging sometimes. Paris is really dense, all the parks were closed, and we couldn't find any green spot where to breath. However being together, the three of us, healthy and happy, has left us a sweet memory of these two months, despite the difficult situation. After the quarantine we are trying to move away from the frenetic Parisian life, into a “slower life", closer to our families.” Justin and Adrienne | Fontainebleau, France | From Adrienne: "We live separate lives, in separate countries, with separate friends. Coronavirus upended that. There were no more moments alone, no distractions, just the two of us: cooking, cleaning, conference calling, exercising, arguing, laughing. We've learned, and we're still here. All of our plans changed, and it's hard to imagine going through it all with anyone else."
I felt the urge to document what in the last two months has been going on in the life of the people I know, all scattered in different countries, experiencing lock-down and self-isolation at different levels of intensity. But I could not get close enough to photograph them, even the ones who live next to me. So I took their portraits via webcam, directing them during the video-call, choosing together perspectives and poses so they could feel their experiences to be represented.
I find it particularly fitting that the social distancing affected both the subjects of my photographs and me as a photographer. Them, because they could be physically close only to a few other persons in their intimate family or friends circle (if any); me, because I could not get near to my subjects as I would normally do, and had to find a new way to create images.
However distant, I feel all of them now closer than before, thanks to their collaboration and loving support. Many people lately have used technologies and the newly found free time to reconnect with friendships left in corner for a while. But as heart-warming as it can be, we simultaneously realize that digital relationships are never like the real thing. This social isolation, this increasing digitalization of work, consume and relationships was already there, it is just that now it was necessary for it to take much more space. We knew it already, and now that we know it much more, what do we think about it? Who is missing touch, smells, warmth, dirt, noise, in a word…closeness?