Text by Heidi Stecker, March 2021
We have been in quarantine for over a year now, off and on for various lengths of time:
at times isolated, and at times allowed to move about and interact more freely. We have often had to become quite homebound in order to protect ourselves and others. In former times, ships had to wait at sea in quarantine until the people, animals, plants and also goods could be allowed on land. The minimum time required for this type of isolation was often forty days. This is how the word “quarantine” made it from Latin via Italian “quaranta giorni” – meaning “forty days” – into the English language. We have now long since passed the forty-day mark, and quarantine has become a “quarantime”. However, it remains to be seen whether it is also a quality time.
“Quarantime” is a recent group of photos by Christine Bachmann that takes a look at the time we have spent in quarantine. When an isolated person in the big city pushes their curtains aside, what can be seen from their window? How does the pandemic manifest itself? Do the fog and curtains of rainy haze symbolize distance and isolation? Or is the beauty of nature and everyday life being rediscovered?
Artist Christine Bachmann looks through her window at the outside world. The sky she sees is the sky above Berlin. The clouds, trees, branches and twigs form either dynamically moving or clear and silent areas. The neighbourhood opens up with windows and loggias. Shadows and reflections interlace the indoors with the outdoors.
The metropolitan city presents itself with uncharacteristic tranquillity; a poetic atmosphere fills the urban space. The sounds of flapping wings and rustling grass come into the acoustic foreground. Although cold colours, shades of green and grey, dominate the scenes, they are interrupted by warm light. The spaces inside and outside one’s own protective walls and the walls of others gaze at one another through windows instead of the people themselves, who remain hidden in the unseen areas.
The only person who shows her face is a fairy – or is it a princess? Owing to a rainbow-like lens flare, the fairy-tale figure appears to be lost in other realms, behind a veil. Only this mysterious figure has a face. But are there other human elements? A close-up of the lower torso of a female sculpture, possibly in a park, public, confident, only this detail of a pelvis atop two long legs – although in reality it is not human at all, but rather a close-up of forking tree branches. A visual trap. Our yearning for life, for other people, causes us to see a human body where there is none.
The gentle touches of the outside world come from Bachmann’s personal experience. Her keen eye unfolds once again in this photographic series. Bachmann chooses specific details, gentle comments on corona. Instead of merging into a coherent narrative, the individual photographs stand alone as autonomous works, visualising moments in an open-ended process.