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Photo essay: The Forgotten Lockdowns

Content warning: some photos contain nudity.

All I have to remember from the days of lockdowns are my photos. There are important events and regular occurrences I can recall; when I covered protests and marches, the numerous video games played with friends. Yet I don’t have any vivid memories of these days. I don’t remember how the day started, I don’t know what I did, I don’t know how I felt, I don’t remember the books I read.

I write this as we come to the end of Victoria’s fifth lockdown. And now my mind is once again slipping. The days drag on in my apartment, yet the sunrise and sunset feel only an hour apart. I feel like my morning alarm is going off less than normal. I find random cups of undrunk tea in my room, or my ashtray suddenly filled with cigarettes.

I reread this paragraph and feel as if I'd written it weeks ago.

I look back at the photos I’ve taken in the numerous days under strict lockdown, and I see barely any signs of humanity. There are no masks. No social distancing. Just my mind picturing whatever seemed to convey my fugue state. Random portraits of Scott Morrison from his pressers, the reflective lights from the office buildings beaming into my window, my television playing the news.

Sometimes photos crop up without any memories of taking them. I don’t know how my lightroom ended up with a hundred images of mountain ranges, or when I went to the beach to take photos. I am also oblivious to when I started photographing my television, or how I ended up taking 200 images of porn on my tv...

Every day I take at least 36 photos, or an entire 35mm roll of film. I fear my memories are fading, as they did for my dementia-diagnosed grandmother. So, I take photos to remember, to document the world I was inhabiting. My own visual diary. Yet all these photos show nothing literal, only abstraction. There’s nothing in these lockdown photos, except my crippling anxieties of losing touch with the worlds outside and within my apartment.


Article & Photos: Jeremy Gan


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