Well what started as my response to the pandemic when it was novel and disruptive has, two years on, become a documentation of a place where it's been absorbed into daily live. It's inevitable, I suppose. Humankind cannot bear very much reality is a quote I often recall. We're encouraged for political reasons to move on, yet the consequences still surround us and will do for years. Oh yes and it still hasn't gone away.
Selecting the images for the fourth book in my own quartet, prompted by the ending of final (?) restrictions in England in February, was an exercise in seeing the evolution of our experiences and attitudes over the period. Vaccination boosting was now a big theme, with the concomitant anti voices. Signs from the early days of lockdown became worn, leaving traces on walls and streets, laying down palimpsests for the future. The echoes were in our heads too.
The optimism of the autumn - and of the autumn before - had been deflated by the threat of a new variant. See how we became medicalised, versed in the language of virology. The Greek chorus of newspaper headlines still provided a running commentary of the quotidian ebb and flow of public debate.
Precipitously our attention has been immediately taken by news from eastern Europe. It adds to a sense of ongoing crisis, another cause to take up arms for. Ukrainian flags now appear in windows. The palette of the rainbows of lockdown reduced to blue and yellow. We know the routine. Fundraising for the frontline. However it isn't a simple binary exercise. The home front still needs attention and we just don't have the bandwidth of compassion for it. People's lives are still in crisis.
I'm still driven to take photographs. It's a lifetime habit but I find this particular work rewarding in other ways. There's a first page of history buzz. This is a development of the theme for my pre-pandemic project, New Europe 2015-19, thinking about the wider political contexts that my images exist within. It's also still simply a way to engage with the world around. By definition it's superficial, on the surface, but that's the point. The street is a leveller, a common experience, and all the more valuable for that.