In my initial post last week, I suggested five operational themes available for any photographer interested in documenting emergence from urban life in quarantine. The first thematic question asked: “How are transitional messages (such as the move from “Stay Home, Save Lives” to “Stay Alert, Control the Virus” in England) expressed… in behavior?” My experience—also documented by the daily press—is rather self-evident, as people show irregular behavior, usually related to weather, more affordable dwellings’ lack of private recreation space, and generational attitudes.
Government guidance in England (as opposed to the rest of the United Kingdom) currently allows outside activities by members of the same household, and socially distanced encounters between only one member each of separate homes. In the photograph, upon close examination, now you see it, now you don’t. Richmond upon Thames on a balmy Wednesday evening in mid-May shows a juxtaposition of noncompliance and obedience.
I have written about such juxtapositions for years—particularly in Seeing the Better City—and about how much they teach us. Notice a juxtaposition—and see debates about the use of a place, flashpoints, and ripples in time—all of which are apparent in the spaces and human expressions of everyday life. Generally, and now in a pandemic, through these recordable “teaching moments,” we can often predict policy discussions, neighbor opposition, generational differences, and historical inequities in a way that can inspire a search for consensus, or even outright conflict and confusion.