Alec Vianu, Creative Director/Design and Photographer
Staying in touch with the world
Never in my life would I have imagined that I would live through a Pandemic. It seemed like something that would be behind us, something human civilization would have under control, or at least could contain and solve quickly. In these last five months there has been such a collective awareness or spotlight on health inequality, racial and social inequity, political unrest and so many unknowns, that it feels like a series of hurricanes and tornadoes!
And then there is the day-to-day mechanisms of working through a Pandemic, which I am lucky and grateful to be able to do compared to so many who have lost their jobs.
At my work at Harrison/Star, we quickly adapted to a work-from-home environment by creating systems for all of us to stay in touch through video conferencing, sharing files, etc. I work with an amazing group of people including our very talented ECD Adam Hessel, and this makes it all easier.
Beyond adapting at work, we all need to adapt on a personal level as well. I realized quickly that one way to process what was happening was through my photography. While there were many brave people on the frontlines who were having certain specific experiences, I felt that the majority of people were facing something different - loneliness, a lack of human connections. I chose to document the empty streets of New York which felt very haunting -- there was a disconcerting sadness and eeriness in the emptiness.
I divided the city into quadrants, and every other day I went with my bike to take photos. The small buildings as well as the huge tall buildings were all unified by emptiness for miles. I created a series of photographs using this approach.
The result I think are a series of photos that are haunting, disturbing and emblematic of what we went through, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic when NYC death rates kept rising with no end in sight and no one knew exactly how the disease was transmitted so it felt like it was right outside your door. I resisted the “attraction” of photographing the first line workers, leaving that to amazing people like Peter Turnley, who is absolutely spectacular.
This series was shown in New York at a couple of photography events, a gallery in Europe as well as accepted in Leica’s North American gallery.
Although bearing witness to and documenting this unprecedented time may not help anyone now, I do think it’s important to contribute to visual information for the future. In this way, I feel I’m able to connect to what’s happening and almost participate in it in a productive way.
It can be seen at www.vianuphotography.com/covid-19-bxw
Love to all and stay healthy!