Portraits in the interior of Coronavirus

My project “Portraits in the interior of Coronavirus” documents human history in these tough times. It’s about Russians experiencing a pandemic in various parts of the world — from Moscow to Barcelona and Peru. 

In the beginning, many people in my country didn’t believe in COVID-19. Everyone was outside without masks, socializing. When my acquaintances got sick, I decided to document their stories on Facebook. I was staying in, so I took photos online via video technology. 

It started with portraits of people with COVID-19. The project evolved to include portraits of doctors, volunteers, people who couldn’t return home due to closed borders, people who couldn’t leave their homes for a long time, newlyweds who married during the pandemic, children who study online, pregnant women unable to postpone giving birth, and so on. These portraits convey a multitude of human stories, intertwined in this global crisis caused by a virus. All stories are personal and short. Like pixels or building blocks, together they form a collective portrait of humanity surviving the era of coronavirus.


BBC about the project

Takie Dela — childbirth

Meduza — children and sports online

Lenta — pregnant women

Takie Dela — portraits of doctors of the red zone

Takie Dela — corpsman’s diary

The project has collected more than 70 portraits and stories. Also, it includes screenshots and videos from ССTV cams around the world.

“Portrait in the interior of coronavirus” is a series shot by Maria Ionova-Gribina using a webcam. The Moscow photographer worked in cooperation with Russian models and shot where the quarantine found them — from New York to the jungles of Peru.

The coronavirus epidemic is the first time in history that a global village has ended up as a digital concentration camp. Humanity was locked in their homes, but not disconnected from electronic facilities. This is how — for the first time — this model of relationships was implemented in practice that only could be seen before in dystopias and zombie horror movies. Maria found a way of visual expression adequate to that model.

The photographer’s right to invade a model’s personal space is one of the most sensitive issues in contemporary art practice. Maria’s project is a participatory experience in which the participants themselves determined the boundaries of their interaction with the artist. Covid influenced the practice of interpersonal communication, and a new way of photographer-model relationships via Internet became relevant precisely because of the restriction of close communication and physical contact. The new communication norm has also created new opportunities, because distances are no longer important.

The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan wrote. The webcam has become one of the main tools for communication in quarantine, a truly universal eye. Maria used this tool to produce photographic images that give an overall picture of what is happening. An integral part of the project is the personal stories of the participants, who translate photographic facts into the language of sociology and psychology. The viewer is confronted with different stories and relationships: forced hospital captivityand voluntary self-isolation, the work of a nurse in the “red zone” and the life of a volunteer away from civilization. From disparate pictures is being composed the Quarantine-2020 mosaic. 

                                                                                                                                                                                             Mikhail Sidlin