I spent much time alone in the apartment and, during that time, I started to engage in activities for which I didn't 'have time' before. I studied French and did some drawing. While dedicating myself to occupying the vacuum created by a new reality, I felt the desire to create artistically, to produce something, from the isolation. I am an artist of movement, and I noticed a growing desire in me to walk, to move (physically and symbolically). In response to this desire, this project started to take shape in my head, building itself slowly.
But even before that support came, the desire to 'move' spoke louder in my head. I started to photograph. I needed to put the idea into practice. One way or another, I knew that something needed to be recorded, and would be, one day, exhibited. It couldn't wait.
So, I got to know the city from a whole new perspective, with very few people walking around. Sometimes, I came across entirely empty streets. As an artist, it was crucial and inspiring to experience the city differently. When I started shooting, I noticed a big difference, a tension in the air. We did not know what we were dealing with, and the amount of news and information made us even tenser. On the other hand, I tried to see the beautiful and poetic side of a city crossed by anguish. Places once filled with cars and people were now empty. The emptiness that I recognized in myself, I also saw in Dublin and its empty-city architecture. Streets and avenues that usually never sleep and tourist places were in a kind of 'suspension'. The park bench once occupied with people and life, now gave way to loneliness and emptiness. Always emptiness.
But I did also see people. Those who didn't have the choice to stay at home. For some reason, they had to leave their family, their homes, their friends and put themselves at risk outside the home.
I wanted to show the city during this weird time, revealing the few people who were outside at the beginning of the lockdown, showing what was different on the streets. I talked about these ideas with my friend and theatre director Ciarán Taylor, and that helped me to formulate this project. I am indebted to him for his help in that early stage, and to The Arts Council for their support of the idea.
I photographed during all three phases of the lockdown: the first when the city did not have a defined plan, and the only recommendation was to stay at home as long as possible; the second, when citizens could only move within a 2 km radius; and the third, when the radius increased to 5 km. Today, we are adapting to this situation. However, four months ago, I felt an 'end of time' atmosphere. Looks of apprehension and fear, distrust, the tension of not knowing what was happening, hurried steps, wheezing behind the masks and sweaty hands in gloves reminded us that something invisible to the eye was lurking.
For this project, I didn't just want to show the empty city and its beauties, but I also wanted to show people who were on the street, whether they were workers or not. I needed to fill the void. I wanted the project to have a face (indeed several), to have an identity, and to reveal some of the people who 'crossed the void'. This is the purpose of this mosaic of faces.
Talking to people was vital to my project, as I wanted to know not only what they had to say at the time of questioning, but also encouraged them to think into a near-future with the following question: 'what is the first thing you will do when all of this is over?'
I recently watched Dr Gary Lewandowski Jr.'s TED Talk about breakups. There is a part of his speech that applies to all human relationships, not just between couples. He says, "We don't like to lose things. And especially, we don't like to lose things that are important to us. And make no mistake, relationships are the most important thing for you in your life. They are the source of all your best memories. They are the source of all your worst memories. When you think about your life when you're 95 or 100 years old and look back, you won't think: 'I wish I owned a better phone', 'I wish I spent more time on the Internet', 'I wish I spent more time at work or sleeping'. It isn't going to be any of those kinds of things. It's going to be: 'I wish I spent more time with the people I loved'".
And that was exactly what the answers to my questions revealed: "To see my friends", "To see my family", "Throw a party for my friends", "Hug my mother", "Have my freedom back", "Go to the church", "Meeting my friends for a pint", "Visiting my hometown", "Traveling", "Being able to touch people again", "Free hugs"... People were missing experiences, human contact, and love relationships.
All of this should make us think about the future. We discovered, in 2020, that anything is possible. At this moment we are entering a new lockdown. At any time, a new virus may appear. Suddenly, the everyday life we have can change wholly and drastically, and a new void is installed.
Perhaps this is the time to rethink our lives, our relationships, choices and priorities. Because, in the blink of an eye, everything can become another emptiness
We have been through situations that even the most pessimistic could not have foreseen: pandemic, quarantines, closed borders, crowded hospitals and a global crisis.
When the whole thing started, I was visiting my family in Brazil. I was staying at my parents' house for three weeks when I first felt the effects of the pandemic: I moved from having a stable job (as well as being an artist, I also worked in tourism) to a new status, laid-off and jobless. I came back to Dublin in distress, three days before the borders were closed. Fear of the virus, the insecurity of leaving my family during the pandemic and the challenge of dealing with the quarantine by myself, made me even more distressed. Inside me was an immense void. I felt empty.
A special thanks to The Arts Council, Ciaran Taylor, Sérgio de Azevedo, Nayara Meneghelli, Fernando de Marchi, Felipe Scalzaretto, Coline Ganz, Daiane, Rovins Roshan, Anshul Gupta, Matea Grganic, Dawn Russel, Sarah Barret - @thecursingnurse, Luiza, Tadhg, Claire, Monika, Maggie, Catriona, Kate, Yang, Iara, João Vinicius, João Paulo, Amy, Laura and Zlatko
Funded by The Arts Council Covid-19 Crisis Response Award
Funded by The Arts Council Covid-19 Crisis Response Award