My Space, self portraits documenting my mood and the spaces in our apartment I’m in during the lockdown period of the Covid-19 outbreak in Kuwait.
My Space, a ongoing lockdown photography project
I am Jeanne van Heerden, a South African designer and photographer, currently living in Kuwait during the Covid-19 pandemic. The struggle of being away from the comforts of my home country, and loved ones during this time has left me emotional at times. Community and longing were common themes running through my head. It has been the most difficult part.
Confronted with loosing my income and all potential jobs, I took it easy on myself until I was ready to take on a new creative project. Restrictive movement meant I had to use the space I had, this is where the idea for ‘My Space’ evolved.
My husband is a teacher, and thankfully is still earning an income, and we live in a “teacher’s building” provided by his school. I could have easily asked one of the residents or even my husband to be my model/subject during the lockdown. I decided that I would be my own subject rather than encroaching on anyone else’s privacy and energy. This is such a sensitive time and everybody is handling it differently. The first month of the lockdown we were even distancing from our neighbours in the building.
I knew I would need to keep this project rather simplistic and honest, it would have to be more emotional, rather than technical and artistic. The experience would be deeply personal, it would be my journal. What is more personal than displaying yourself and being the subject? I Intimately allowed the viewer into our home.
I would need to work through my own entrapment and claustrophobia fears. I had the opportunity to council myself and to reflect. The need to create was real, combined with having the luxury of time. I felt that I had no choice but to ‘go with the flow’. I decided to use my experience of levitation photography, and it proved a creative and fun metaphor to portray the ‘flow’ while shifting the focus to and from myself.
I am being kind to myself, learning to embrace this strange reality, flowing, allowing all emotions and feelings without any guilt. I don’t want to commit to taking a photograph a day, too much pressure. In my effort to capture these emotions, and this new mundane existence, I took to my tripod, my camera and my core muscles from all the recent yoga practices.
I place myself in the unstaged spaces of our home in Kuwait. I don’t dress up for the shoot, I don’t have special equipment or lighting, only my camera and a tripod. I capture two frames, one with me and one without, and use PSD to mask the images. My everyday activities are documented, and narrated for even more intimacy.
It has been a complicated time for us collectively. I found comfort in that, and felt the need to create and interpret these feelings in a body of work. The safety of oversharing was irresistible to me. I am hopeful that the viewer will connect and trust me.
My Space is giving me a sense of community.