Notes on Isolation
As irony would have it, when these images were shot, I was feeling isolated. Little did I know, just two months later, the state of the world was about to change and the word "isolation" would have a whole new meaning.
During the past holiday season, I had extended my stay at my childhood home in the suburbs, to spend time with family and to attend a friend's wedding. Towards the end of my stay, as is inevitable for any New Yorker in the suburbs, I began to feel antsy and isolated. The novelty of relaxing, watching too many movies, and (very very) quiet walks around the neighborhood eventually wore off and I craved my city, my studio, work and the feeling of productivity. Having anticipated that this might happen, I brought along my Leica M6 on the trip. I rummaged around the house to find objects to arrange and shoot; if I was pleased with the images, I intended to call this series, "Things found in NJ".
One month later I finally took the film to be developed. One month after receiving the film back, a large fraction of the world, including New York City, went into isolation. Many have lost their jobs and many are sick. Leaving the apartment has become a (frightening) luxury. A rare and necessary grocery run feels like a vacation. A spin around the block, to let our dog relieve herself, feels like a trip around the world (all the while zigzagging as to not come close to anyone).
It is now I realize that just two months ago, the word "isolation" had been used so differently. In my own case, it was used as a way to describe the distance that I felt from my home, my work, my creativity and productivity. Now, as I am confined to my home, "isolation" suddenly means feeling distant from the physical outside and missing everyday activities that were taken for granted. However, it also has taken on new meanings such as saving lives and flattening curves. It can be confusing to grapple with something that feels so negative but that is actually reducing infections, minimizing the stress put on our health care system and protecting the essential workers who risk their lives every day for us. Isolation has made me feel indebted to those who are still going to work to provide us with medical care, stocking our grocery store shelves, driving our busses and subways, making medical supplies, delivering our packages, keeping our banks open ... and the many more still going out to try to keep essential services available to us.
Had I known what was about to ensue just two months ago, I wonder if I would have passed on making these images and instead, chosen to make those (very) quiet walks just a tad longer or chosen to lay in the grass of the big backyard at my childhood home (even though it was winter). While we can only move forward, I am thankful every day for my health, my family, the food in my cabinets, my friends that check in with me daily, our little dog who is thrilled that we are home with her all day, and of course for the many personnel still going out to keep us all healthy and safe.
The public's health and safety are our first priority, and we are working to do our part to help. While we take this crisis very seriously, we are still trying to share beautiful images and to feature artists here to help keep you inspired during this tough time. In doing this, we are not taking the situation lightly, rather we hope to provide you with a little sliver of visual peace during these times of isolation and fear.
A few resources to help in the NYC area:
Donate to Food Bank for New York City
Sign up to volunteer with New York Cares (you can complete the orientation virtually within about a week of signing up)