In a recent piece for The Guardian, Sophie Haigney describes the odd pleasure of looking at photos of “the world emptying out.” She writes, “They are evidence of something truly terrible: the pandemic.” But they are also “evidence of something hopeful: large segments of the world were shutting down, fully or partially, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus.” Though the images are void of social connection or community, that absence itself suggests human life and relationships, cooperation and interaction. During this period of isolation, the National Portrait Gallery began a photo project that illuminates the people not seen in the tourist sites studied by Haigney. The museum invited people in the U.K. to submit photographed self-portraits taken in their homes, and received nearly 31,000. Judges have selected 100 photos, and they’ve been assembled in a virtual exhibit that is a composite portrait of life in lockdown. —C.J.F.
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