Countless companies today follow a particular rhythm and mindset whereby, it’s tantamount to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. This is like Michael Hodges has stated; going on for years, they either want you to conform to their ideal or they do not want you. This is disconcerting, as it contradicts the term democracy, particularly in a postmodernist world. Though this is no ordinary postmodernist world, this is a world that has self-harmed. Early reports came in late December 2019 from a food market in Wuhan, China. The epicentre of the outbreak according to local health authorities it was the earliest case that was announced by the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission had shown symptoms some weeks later. Although, it did not report on the human-to-human transmission, which could point to the possibility that the Corona Virus had mutated and now named as COVID-19. One can recall a cinematic perspective on such a theme, namely Contagion (2011). A film; which focused on a rapidly spreading airborne pandemic, strangely its origins mirroring that of the very real pandemic, we are all witnessing in 2020. Now, this is very disconcerting but it also points to another interesting and illuminating aspect; a one monetary system world.
Orchestrated by a global government, it could be an actual truth in the foreseeable future. The thinking behind this process is the now apparent elimination of using cash daily. Because of the recent outbreak, the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through objects handled by touch. Just like in the afore-mentioned screenplay, we touch ourselves between 3000 - 5000 times a day. Add to that, the number of people we come in to contact with and the numbers are staggering. Then if you work in an office, or are a key worker, that rate increases exponentially. I watch the skies a lot where I live, living under a flight path to a major airport hub. Traffic has decreased, but I see that more and more people are travelling to the countryside or the local park. The local park where it was once considered a tranquil location has now been inundated with hordes of fitness fanatics who, even after being so-called informed by the government and an NHS campaign are still congregating in public areas. On, the upside to all of this is the plethora of creatives who always seem to capitalise on such events in a positive way. If you can recall the unfortunate 9/11 attacks on US airspace and soil. Musicians/ Producers came up with some interesting personal perspectives on the event; Blood On My Hands and Daniel Rossen’s Saint Nothing to name the most hauntingly beautiful interpretations. Also, literary aficionados will no doubt have read with interest, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and The Last Illusion. Two very different novels, but both inspired by real events.
So, what of the current circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic? Well, if you watch many YouTube videos, you will have watched how some of these so-called creatives, are suffering from creative block and reposting work they’ve already posted under a new #Title or others spreading their negativity and refusing to accept it is a PANDEMIC and opting to name it a recession! The fall out financially may lead to a global recession. However, a pandemic is a very real threat. Stock markets may have crashed. Fuel prices are being pushed down, shelves are emptying quicker than a supermarket sweep, and Instagrammers are posting photographs of said empty shelves. Fine but trawling the local supermarket, I realised one important aspect to all of this. What do we leave behind, what do we consider non-necessity and what do we consider valuable in a world hit by the crisis? Most of the stuff I found left on the shelves were items that would be needed for someone moving into a new apartment and the nicknacks that accompany peoples lifestyle; cushions, curlers, hairdryers, mirrors, vases and picture frames, even beer was more readily available. Whilst on the thought of picture frames, I recalled a meeting with world-renowned photographer Joel Meyerowitz and his wife English novelist Maggie Barrett. It was during an exhibition of the publications; Morandi’s Objects and Cape Light, I purchased both books. His work has always been inspiring. The photographs of the objects emit a kind of soft warm aesthetic in a rosy light, very pleasing to the eye and convey a sense of the painter, but also depict details that only the camera lens shows.
It was this book, combined with the empty shelves at the supermarket, that has ignited a creative response to document photographs of still life, of everyday objects we take for granted but, find is no real necessity because of the current crisis. Having trawled through umpteen posts, some creatives have come together musically. Which, I’ve found very entertaining even a family whilst in isolation performing a parody of Les Misérables’ One Day More. Comical, however a very real sense of how people, all over the UK and undoubtedly the world, are keeping themselves entertained and actual family bonding taking place.
Let us digress a little to photography. I’ve been photographing scenes whilst out shopping for food. Making the odd document for the future. Finding people in isolation and trolling photographs, I took some time ago from my back catalogue of images. I am also anxiously awaiting my batch of negatives from Ilford Labs, more on that when they arrive as I will scan straightaway. I have scanned a series of negs from my time before lockdown shooting the Button Street Badger Band in that well known Liverpool pub, the White Star. The gang vary in ages as they do from their backgrounds and different instruments that they play. Granted I think the youngest in her late sixties, the oldest was someone who is senior and their dad turned up, he was in his late eighties. They all enjoyed the banter, the drink and musicality of each member and the knowledge of the old folk songs. It was a privilege to document these people; I shot several rolls of film, colour and monochromatic. However, the decor was well-dated, and I opted mainly for good old black and white, easier to scan less faff editing the images. Before shooting the band, I was glossing the pages of Anders Petersen’s Cafe Lehmitz, and Krass Clement and his seminal work DRUM. Both photographers utilising monochromatic film. In Petersen’s oeuvre, you will undoubtedly see movement and perhaps form some anxiety regarding the subject, sex workers, punters, pimps and petty criminals amidst a backdrop of alcohol and drug-induced infamous Hamburg red-light district; the Reeperbahn. In stark contrast, the subject of Krass Clement’s DRUM is set against a small pub in Drum, Ireland. The main protagonist is alone drinker, the entire set is dark and the atmosphere one that cuts through the bravado and debauchery of Cafe Lehmitz. There is a certain unease, alas one that produces and reflects the very nature of the pub and those that frequent it and they’re ignorance of a fellow man. The books and photographers are inspiring and trying to encapsulate a combination of the two was hard, especially in the White Star pub, the atmosphere was one of a senior day release field trip, they only hung around every Wednesday for a few hours, so I had to catch them when I could. I got to know their songs even though it wasn’t my usual form of listening, I do have an eclectic taste. Beside the band locals would come and go, have a few pints catch up with the football news and leave. Remember Liverpool is home to two of the biggest clubs in the Premiership, so when they clash on Derby day, you can imagine the atmosphere. Unfortunately that won’t be happening this year, as the current crisis continues, i’ll be keep you posted but please enjoy these images for now.
Keep Safe, Stay Home!