[ COVID EXPRESSIONS ] An interpretive project that reflects the personal experiences, feelings and thoughts related to COVID-19 and its impact. It may be conceptual or artistic in the approach. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2019 or 2020.
Vadi-Rahmat cemetery of Tabriz, Blocks 65 and 57, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children are sleeping at here. They are the victims of the Covid-19 epidemic buried in these blocks. According to Iranian culture and customs, a portrait of the deceased is engraved on a tombstone.
Being a journalist and covering the pandemic, I was extra cautious for my elderly parents at home. I had quarantined myself in a room since March, when I first went on assignment to the Gujarat border to cover the mass migration from Maharashtra to the neighboring states due to lockdown. On the 2nd of June, early morning my father’s (84yrs) health condition deteriorated. Fearing the worse, especially due to his pre-existing medical conditions, I rushed him to a nearby hospital. At the Hospital casualty ward, doctors screened him for his body temperature and other vitals. After the initial screening and formalities, He had to be admitted to the hospital’s quarantine for further investigations. We were asked to undergo compulsory Covid-19 test (as protocols demanded). As the night passed my tension grew and the much-awaited results came my father, was COVID positive. He was transferred to the R-ICU for his further treatment The family and I underwent home quarantine for the next 14 days. For the family, the war front became four faced. First, to mitigate any further contamination at home by cleaning and sterilizing every possible corner of the flat, and tracking each other to ensure that none of us showed any symptoms of Corona. Second, to gain the confidence of our neighbors that we are not potential health hazards to them. Third, to make sure my dad is looked after properly at the hospital. Finally, the doctors suggested that we should take dad home for his further recovery, he has not shown any further symptoms since his admission and does not require further hospitalization. The final call came post 5 pm on 9th June when the discharge processes started. He was stamped on his hand for home quarantine till the 17th of June and finally reached home at 12′ o’clock in the night. A daily caregiving routine soon followed and continues till day as I write. With his quarantine period long over and much improved health. It seemed certain normalcy has prevailed finally.
“Portraits of My Mother is a journal of my life, my mother and most importantly, my relationship with her. My mother (Seema Arora) being a housewife for the past 29 years has probably done the same amount of labor for the family since always. The lockdown, the pandemic, and the time spent at home is what made me notice and ponder upon her as anything other than “maa”, other than the part of her identity attached to mine. I saw changes— her white hair, her anxious behavior, and was troubled by how much I had missed while I wasn’t really looking inside my own domestic space. There were regrets which raised questions— why would she choose this life, or did someone else choose this life for her claiming care? I had a million questions running in my head and I didn’t even know where to begin or how to talk to her about them. The domestic sphere is riddled with shadows under which these women spend almost all of their lives, their work often going unnoticed, and everything they do taken for granted. I imagined being in the same position at my workplace, and I was stunned at how difficult and disturbing it seemed even within the realm of imagination. Through these photographs, I am trying to show my own contradictions, doubts, new understandings about my mother as first and foremost, a person; something a lot of us forget to consider about the women in our lives. I am trying to constantly question myself by simply documenting my mother’s life in its pieces; hoping that when I put it all together, the sum will appear larger than its parts.”
My wife and I have been staying at home most of the time since march 2020. We hardly go out. Our apartment is the only safe place. This is a story how fear and uncertainty have become our constant companions. It all started when I developed a fear of flying by examining safety instructions on a plane. After that I found out there are many different guides that give recommendations on what to do if something happens. In this world of instructions, everything always goes wrong: robbers break into your house, your house is destroyed by an earthquake, an airplane falls into the water… – in this world, danger lurks around every corner. In this world, you must know the necessary things to survive: before you eat a fruit, you need to wash it, and if you accidentally find yourself in a crowd, you need to get out of it at any cost.