The lockdown of early Spring of 2020 which came as a response to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, exposed the hidden and uncanny facet of a lifeless reality in modern metropoles. People remained isolated confronting their fragility and their vulnerability, in a state analogous to Prospero’s quarantine inside his shielded abbey, in Edgar Allan Poe’s allegoric “The Masque of the Red Death”.

Unlike many European cities which appeared almost picturesque and attractive during the lockdown -reminding imagery borrowed from the seductive reality of the first days of photography, characterised mostly by the complete absence of automobiles- Athens, a chaotically built and buzzing Mediterranean capital, transformed into a barren and bleak landscape full of parked cars, more apocalyptic than ever, emitting an eerie feeling of abandonment. The repetitive motifs of the urban landscape reminded a lifeless architectural maquette -where open space stands quietly vis a vis the harsh volume of the buildings.

In “Covid-Days”, the city wasn’t recorded as the topographic reference of the quarantine. The inanimate and almost monochromatic landscape of winterly Athens was not documented as a natural and idyllic, silent landscape, but, as a stark imprint of a desolate urban terrain. As such, it was intended to serve primarily as a record of a unique historic moment and hardly as a melancholic and poetic reminder of the lockdown.

Inside the timeless shell of the city, people were depicted in a state of transition and anticipation, like quiet by-standers, either in the shadowy and gloomy interiors of their shelters or in deserted public spaces, rarely looking at the lens and conveying a feeling of emptiness and uncertainty and reflecting the fragility of their existence.

© demetris koilalous