"In the Shadow of Corona"
Unprecedented times demand an unprecedented response. As a film-based photographer whose recent work explores process, materiality and the photograph as object, I’m compelled now to take a different approach and make this new work by any means necessary.
With neither darkroom nor photo lab available during this time of Shelter-in-Place, my outdated cell phone has become my camera of choice. The spontaneity and immediacy it affords has become a liberating tool for me to photograph my longtime, San Francisco neighborhood during this uniquely anxious time of caution and restriction.
Most of these pictures are from the last several months, since the onset of the novel coronavirus and Shelter-in-Place order. I’ve photographed the manifestations of this invisible presence among us both directly and metaphorically, adding images from my own “archive” of neighborhood cell phone pictures that take on new meaning as a backdrop of mood and emotion to the current images.
This personal and idiosyncratic approach to life “In the Shadow of Corona” lands somewhere between diary and document. Throughout the three decades I’ve lived here, the richness of my neighborhood has seemed to hold all the world, both in good times and bad. Historically an underserved neighborhood of working-class immigrants, the Mission has been a largely Latino neighborhood for decades until the more recent surge of gentrification has eroded the Latinx community.
The pandemic has magnified the existing hardships and disparities found here, holding a mirror to neighborhood tensions spurred by gentrification. Food and housing insecurity have intensified due to job loss and reduced income in the wake of the virus. All this against the backdrop of a strikingly disproportionate incidence of Covid cases within the Latinx population, largely centered in our neighborhood.
Yet, the neighborhood’s defining spirit of creativity and resilience persists. It’s my hope these pictures will add a unique narrative to the neighborhood’s diverse history, while communicating the profound anxiety, sadness and loss we’ve all confronted during these first three months of living with the virus.