For much of the world, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a nightmarish reality to ingest. Many have remarked that the rapid spread of Coronavirus feels much like the plot of Contagion: inescapable and somewhat apocalyptic. Through photography, I wanted to explore this further. The images in Beyond The Veil assume a surreal, yet haunting atmosphere. Inspired by the unprecedented yet constant state of anxiety imposed by the pandemic, the essay takes on a narrative of human extinction. Many of the images are devoid of human subjects and otherwise bright scenes suddenly turn eerie. What remains are staples of the suburban human presence. Bicycles, quaint furniture, and white picket fences all allude to a time once occupied under the guise of normalcy. I intentionally sought out somewhat benign imagery to create a more covert sense of apprehension. A viral pandemic is a unique kind of disaster because the destruction is not obvious. The spread is invisible and the damage is silent. Much like suburbia’s false notions of fulfillment, the work of a facade is at play.
While drawn curtains and obstructed benches contribute to a heavy sense of absence, portraits of myself depict my encounter with forced introspection during shelter-in-place orders. This extra time with myself has been valuable, but also enables an occasionally toxic pattern of self-scrutiny. The images in which I grab at my stomach refer to intimate encounters with ourselves in private space -getting dressed, grooming, etc. However, these images also illustrate my own bodily criticisms, which have re-emerged for the first time since early adolescence. Simultaneously, the four “book portraits” allude to my struggle with productivity and the internal pressure to always be working. I have been so compelled to “get ahead” that I often feel like my life is dictated by a “To Do” list.
In this way, the plot of both human extinction and self persecution gives way to a protagonist-antagonist dynamic. Beyond The Veil is a lonely, dystopian place in which I attempt to evade the grasp of both the virus and myself. It is a world in which plastic animals and rider-less Ferris wheels synthetically recreate the forever lost past.