Between March-June 2020 I made a series of 50 photographic portraits of people living in isolation in my neighbourhood in Montréal.
The portraits of friends, neighbours and strangers were all shot at a distance through closed windows and communicated over the phone. Each person I photographed contributed a piece of text describing their personal experience of living in isolation (two of which I have included at the bottom of this email and relate to two of the 4 images I am submitting)
The city was so quiet after everyone retreated to their homes that I could hear the melting snow water rushing in the pipes under the streets. It felt desolate, until I started to notice people’s worlds continuing silently behind closed windows, the warm light spilling out against the cold blue of twilight. The views reminded me of Edward Hopper paintings. I wanted to reach out and touch the bubble worlds I saw.
People’s experiences of living through lockdown reminded me of how it felt moving to Canada from England. The feeling of being disconnected from everything and everyone I knew as if I was an astronaut free-floating through space. For a long time I felt as if I was living life in a bubble in which I could hear the voices of my old life but only over the phone, I could even see the faces of the people I loved but only via a screen but I deeply missed being in close physical proximity to the people who really knew me. I missed popping into a friends house, sharing a meal or a cup of tea. I missed the hugs, I missed touch.
These images are an expression of that bubble state and an attempt to bridge the gap between those isolated spaces. Creating this work was an incredibly enriching experience for me and made me feel closer to and more grounded in my community here. And it was a similar experience for the people photographed. The process reached out and connected people which is why I want to continue to share it.
“Feeding people is a way that I share love. For years now, we had friends or family over weekly, creating elaborate meals. I miss kids running around until their parents sleepily carry them out the door, their bellies too full and the goodbyes too long. I miss those hugs and kisses in the entrance. Piles of jackets on the bench. I have moments where I wonder if those glorious meals are going to become a thing of the past. The shock and fear of the pandemic hitting the world felt heavy and I'd found that I'd lost my appetite for several weeks. I'm starting to finally come back to my cookbooks and plan meals and lists. Fold dough, chop herbs, melt chocolate, whisk eggs. For one hour a day, I let my kids lie in my bed and watch a show so that I can dance around my kitchen alone and cook us a meal. All of my senses awaken and I go back to something that is familiar and comforting.”