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PORTFOLIO - Lucia Bartl: Keeping distance

PORTFOLIO – Lucia Bartl: Keeping distance

In her series The Distance Projekt, the photographer Lucia Bartl addresses the impact of the lockdown on the lives of her loved ones. Her tender images are taken at a certain distance from the subject, as prescribed.

Hamburg, 20.03.2020. Today it is the wedding of my friend Vanessa. Her son, Mattis is watching the preparations from under the table. Just 3 days before the lockdown started in Germany. The gouverment decided to put harsh restrictions but the ceremony still can happen. But even little Matty fells the tension in the air. Adults have started to act strangly. We are only 4 guests – all familymembers stayed at home. © Lucia Bartl

As if he were frightened by the camera or afraid of the times we live in, little Mattis ducks behind the table as Lucia Bartl snaps a picture. It was this image that inspired the photographer to launch a series during this historic lockdown in her home country of Germany.

Her loved ones, neighbors, other citizens she crosses paths with on her rare outings all bear witness to the concerns of the moment. Their faces are often serious and focused, an impression that is further accentuated by the pearly light falling across their features. People do what they always do, but there is a clear sense that something has changed, that something has happened to undermine their ordinary confidence.

Anna was supposed to travel to Africa, and she wonders when she will be able to make the journey. Inga is an artist: although all her exhibitions have been canceled, she continues to work. In another picture, a man plays the saxophone in the street and, learning about the photographer’s project, decides, “I’m going to play the Blues.” A sense of sadness hovers over the pictures as the familiar world is coming apart in the face of an uncertain future. However, some take things in stride, like the photographer’s partner who noted philosophically: “In this time of distance, joy becomes more and more a way of rebellion. Sometimes it is important to just close your eyes for a moment and be happy. No matter what is happening outside.”

Hamburg, 18.04.2020. I see Anna. She has a little printing workshop in my office building. We are talking about travelling and when she tells me about her trip to Kampala, Uganda her eyes are sparkeling. We wonder about when it will be possible again to leave. © Lucia Bartl

Hamburg, 06.04.2020. I meet my colleague Inga, an artist, in her atelier. It is in the same building as my office. All her exhibitions and artist reci- dencies are canceled. ‚I run out of material‘ she says but she goes on working. © Lucia Bartl

Hamburg, 29.03.2020. I make a walk through the redlight district. The Reeperbahn is full of clubs and bars but now deserted and spooky. But suddenly I hear music. A saxplayer walks through the empty streets. When I asked him if I can take his portrait he said: ‚Then I play the blues.‘ © Lucia Bartl

Hamburg, 02.04..2020. My boyfriend and I stay at home. In this times joy becomes more and more a way of rebel- lion. Sometimes it is important to just close the eyes for a moment and be happy. No matter what happens outside. © Lucia Bartl

Kiel, 27.03.2020. I have to go to Kiel for an architcture job, 2h away from Hamburg. Empty trains, no one on the streets. Only around the station. I talk to Alex who is waiting for his ride and he is ok that I take his picture. We don‘t talked a lot but in the end he said: ‚Maybe I get famous now!‘ and give me a big smile. © Lucia Bartl

Hamburg, 10.04.2020. I go and see Philip. He has his studio next door. ‚For me the crises hasn‘ t changed so much. I can go on wor- king and playing music‘, he tells me. © Lucia Bartl

Hamburg, 24.03.2020. Unless like in other citys I can still go to work in my office. My collegue Janna is sitting on the opisite side of the room so we keep the social distancing. Outside is a lovely weather. We try to go on with our projects. ‚The problem is the way we talk. There are too many ifs to really go on.‘ © Lucia Bartl

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