Obscure; A Photography Project

Copyright ©ShulieMadnick

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Obscure; An Artist's Statement

In Obscure, I created images of today's reality as well as a warped sense of everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic. The photographs of masked strangers and masked familiar to me faces, illustrate the human connection during a new era of social distancing, six feet apart. The now elusive common household commodities, masking human faces, depict the fantasy that evolved from the 'new normal' circumstances. The polaroid-like white band around the snapshots is a metaphor for the mask and the subject of obscurity I am exploring in this series. 

The people I photographed were intently looking directly into the camera, connecting and interacting with me in a heightened sense of awareness, mostly relaxed. The interactions I had were positive in juxtaposition to the dystopian reality created by the fear of contracting and spreading the Coronavirus. 

The dizzying state of quarantine made me examine the mask as a literal and as a figurative analogy for obscurity. Often, in our pre Coronavirus, hurried, and individualistic culture and lifestyle, we overlook people. Suddenly, when confined, obscured, and secluded, we see the other more. People are jittery but yearn to connect even if only for a brief moment to be photographed. 

I resisted falling into the pattern of panic and hoarding early on. Over a month into quarantine, I did, however, become frantic with a delirious obsession, seeking toilet paper, Purell, and Clorox wipes as if I were possessed. As if these items were the be-all and end-all to my existence. I was experiencing a temporary yet an extreme case of cabin fever. A distorted sense of reality that inspired the images of toilet paper and Purell suspended on human bodies.

In Obscure, optimism and pessimism are intertwined.

The existential philosophical questions of ethics, identity, and pre and post Coronavirus human interaction through this obscurity project were swirling in my mind. I am inclined to border on the cynical, but the images I created were far from being grim and dark. If anything, they are bright, full of promise, even comical.

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