What does isolation mean to us? How do we feel about it once it’s imposed and our freedom is taken away?
Torn between being a responsible member of society by staying at home and the feeling of losing our freedom of action, photographer and director Anna Radchenko visually explores the concept of mental and physical isolation through two capsule-photography series.
Niccolò L. M. Montanari explains: “After the initial thought that not having to make up excuses to not see people didn’t sound that bad, it has finally hit me. Do I actually miss people? Or am I just bored of the sound of my own voice? With almost two months’ worth of lockdown to ponder over it, I’ve been talking about it to friends, family and people I work with. Online exclusively, of course.
“It all very much depends on the amount of restrictions that have been put in place by our respective governments. You see, in Italy you need a paper stating why you are leaving your home, where you live and where you are heading. I’ve lost count, but since they decided to instate this quirky tradition we’ve had at least four different “official” versions that have been released. True, the virus has hit us the hardest, so I’m not commenting on the social distance measures necessary to keep us alive. If anything it’s just a dig at our world-renowned painful bureaucracy.
“One person I’ve been talking to is photographer and film director Anna Radchenko. Originally from Moscow, she has been living in London since her MA in Fashion Photography from the London College of Fashion. She initially reached out to share a series of photos exploring different aspects of isolation. All obviously shot before the lockdown, but they just seemed more relevant than ever in the current landscape.
“Titled The Melancholy Rooms, the project was originally created as part of an exhibition space. The stills focus on the idea of living in a hyper-connected society, in which technology plays a vital role in how we relate to one another. But as all we know, rather than bringing us closer these devices have always had a tendency to isolate us. That is up until now, when the chance to meet people in real life has been taken away and video calls have become the only way to hang with our friends (though it still hasn’t stopped me from bailing on them). Anna’s photos also look at physical isolation and how in these trying times we tend to revert back to our most basic needs. With an increasing number of restrictions, we give up all control and almost regress to being babies in the belief that we’ll be looked after and cared for. You know the drill – wake up, eat, sleep, eat, sleep some more.
“Out of all this, there has been one positive outcome. And no, I’m not trying to search for a lesson to be learned in all this mess. But I have noticed that I’m genuinely nicer to people. Asking how people are is now a loaded question and it’s not just an informal greeting – I actually want to know about it. I think it’s the knowledge that we are all experiencing this, that it has turned all of our lives upside down. Hopefully we’ll be out of this soon enough and we’ll probably go back to our old cynical selves. But at least we’ll have something in common with any stranger we meet in the street. In social gatherings, if all else fails, we will always be able to reminisce over our complicated relationship with Rona.”
Although these photos were shot before the international lockdown, they’ve become even more relevant in the current landscape. We find ourselves in an alternative reality, where we have to change our habits and some of our traits as we are spending so much time on our own. Much of what we took for granted, including the freedom to leave our homes, go to work and meet people, has been replaced by a growing feeling of uncertainty and confinement. But this has also meant reassessing our values, as we now place more importance on reconnecting with people. A simple “How are you?” is now a loaded and meaningful question, rather than just an informal greeting.
Creative director and Photographer: Anna Radchenko @anna_radchenko
3d: Dimitri Rimss at Enjoy Rendering @enjoyrendering
Make-up Artists: Olga Zvereva, Galina Mahacheva, Galina Pashinina
Set designers: Taya Dodina and Zolotoya Staya
About Anna Radchenko
Anna Radchenko is an award-winning director and multidisciplinary artist from Moscow, who now lives in London. She specialises in short films, music videos, commercials, mixed media editorial projects and art installations. Graduating with a distinction in MA Fashion Photography from London College of Fashion, Radchenko’s films have been selected by some of the world’s major fashion and short film festivals including Berlin Commercial, Underwire, Aesthetica and LA Fashion Festival. In terms of vision, she uses surreal ideas to create content that is both optically arresting and memorable. Anna is represented by Kode Media in the UK.