between the years
When the lockdown came, I had just finished my last photo project. I was visiting my parents in Regensburg to get some rest when the
Tagesschau reported that the universities were closing. Thrilled at the news, I wrote a note to my parents on the kitchen table, "Unis
are closed, might stay a few more days." I was so full of energy that I didn't finish the sentence, and the note ended with the words
"may stay a fe-".
The joy didn't last long. At some point I had looked through the Netflix watchlist and listened to all my favorite records, then I wished for university back.
I'm studying photojournalism in Hanover. When the online lectures started, I realized pretty quickly that I can't handle this form of studying at all. I need the walk to the university, the annoyed exchanges of glances with the others when the course drags on.
When, at the end of last year, I eventually got the assignment from DIE ZEIT to photograph my generation in Corona times, I finally grasped the relevance of the subject and got a taste for the story in its entirety. Suddenly it felt like I had a special view on things, like maybe my perspective was even relevant.
On New Year's Eve, I photographed the first subject: my then-girlfriend's little brother was meeting his two best friends for the first time in many months at the turn of the year. As a prize for setting off last year's silver swirls and firecrackers together, he spent a few days in his room afterwards, quarantined as a precaution. He had the food put in front of the door.
From then on, I photographed such scenes again and again. All of the young people in my environment were possible protagonists, all of them had a story to tell, and for all of them the pandemic was an exceptional situation. Even friends who were actually firmly established in life suddenly began to wobble. It was not difficult to explain to them what pictures I was looking for, we were all in the middle of it and knew how the other was feeling. At the moment, I am collecting diary entries from young people in my immediate environment for the book form of the photo project. Some sentences are repeated. It is surprising how similar things have been for us in the last few months- Yet we all felt so alone.
I took photos of acquaintances and acquaintances of acquaintances. For the most part, though, they were the people I had missed for
months. I partly moved into their shared flats, photographed them smoking pot and having lunch with their parents. Often I was on the
road for several weeks and then went into quarantine myself.
Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, I took many photos of the inescapable closeness that being at home brought. Many couldn't breathe. People had moved back in with their parents, away from the new freedom they had just gained. In shared flats it became too crowded - not least because of being alone so much.
The pandemic seems to have the inescapable power of bringing all inner conflicts to light. Demons that had been well under control through the right environment and sufficient distraction finally broke free and took the space they deserved. For the first time, I was confronted with how broken my relationship with my parents was. For an entire year, I didn't speak to my father.
Then in the summer, for many, the great freedom returned. For me, it meant restlessness. I got into a state of insane productivity. In just a few weeks, I photographed as many subjects as I had in the entire half year before.
Some of my friends had trouble reconnecting with their social lives after the winter months, and I was no different. The "not having a clue where to go with yourself", not yet knowing where to hold on when everything is shaking: That's maybe part of the state between being a kid and being an adult anyway. Corona acts as a catalyst here. The message to my parents mentioned at the beginning is now stuck in a picture frame as a document of time. It is in a moving box in my new flat-sharing room, where I moved in half a year ago. The room is not really furnished yet. Sometimes it still feels like I'm just camping there.