Looking onwards: 18 photographers envision hope for the future

Thomas Albdorf, Monument For The Thirst (If You Build It, It Will Come) At Pink Motel, March 2020, from the series The Promised Land

“I really want to play tennis.” “When this is over, we’re going to celebrate at our local pizzeria.” “I wish I could go back to my dance school and teach my little girls as usual”. “I worked so hard on this movie, but who is going to see it?”. “My mother works in a restaurant, she fears savings are going to run out soon.” “I promised my brother I was going home for his birthday, I wish I could keep my word.”

We heard all of these voices in our head when we decided to work on a special feature at Paper Journal. We wondered what it was that we can’t wait to go back to; we felt the urgency to look ahead. That is why we asked twenty photographers about what they are looking forward to after isolation and requested submission of a photograph that sheds light on the future.

The responses we received were diverse. Some decided not to participate, using this time as a space for reflection or an opportunity to be closer to their loved ones. Some were excited to share what makes them hopeful. Some others admitted they couldn’t find an image that would fit the theme; and how to blame them? One of them was excited to go back to shoot for a project she was working on before the lockdown. Another confessed this time felt “like watching himself in a movie,” but also acknowledged he was eager to dictate what kind of movie it was and for it not to be “an apocalypse tragedy”. 

During this unsettling time, maintaining a sort of normalcy is difficult. Our hours are mostly spent online in virtual rooms—days all look pretty much the same; we’ve lost any notion of time.

Paper Journal is grateful to be part of a community of artists that inspire us to see the world differently every day. That is why we relied on them to envision what the future may bring. From a portrait of a child to some otherworldly still life compositions, from a picture of two lovers in bed to a brass band or people gathering in a park, these images speak of a time we can make our own. With our friends, surrounded by family, in our own studios or at home, this is a time where we become acquainted with the absurd, we blur the spheres of intimacy and concurrently we prepare each day to savour some normality. 

Thanks to all the photographers who responded to our request and to those who decided to contribute to this special feature at such a challenging time. To all of you reading, we hope you stay healthy and can be inspired by the series for a promising outlook.

Nicolas Polli, Untitled, 2020, from the series Me Myself Everything Else 

Nicolas Polli

I began self-quarantine on the day of my birthday, 13th March. Since then, I have started to think about my loneliness, and tried to provoke a creative reaction to it. People would probably call it therapy. This new project has put all my other personal projects on stand-by. I believe it will be interesting to continue everything else with fresh eyes when this will be over, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m definitely happy that what is happening has helped me to slow down; to understand what I really need and what I don’t. 

Arielle Bobb-Willis, Austin, January 2020

Arielle Bobb-Willis 

You’re more than what you make, your productivity does not determine your value, you can make things just for yourself, you’re allowed to say no, you’re allowed to rest <3 xx 

Arianna Lago, Untitled, 2019, from the series Alien Observer

Arianna Lago

I see this period of pause and isolation as a great opportunity to clear the clutter, look back at past projects, refocus and realign the objectives that are true to myself. Growth and experimentation are needed in our practice but our vision may not be so clear in times of fear and insecurity. I look forward to the end of the pandemic to refocus on what gives me joy. 

Aubrey Trinamman, Isla, 2019

Aubrey Trinamman

My hope is that we will listen more than we fear.

Leonard Suryajaya, Family Charade, 2020

Leonard Suryajaya

I looking forward to giving and receiving physical comfort from my family and friends. I look forward to being seen in person; embracing, kissing, hugging, sharing drinks and food, and having a good laugh about life. 

Katrin Koenning, Lidia, 2020

Katrin Koenning

This portrait of Lidia belongs to a long-form, community-engaged work collecting stories from Melbourne’s Prahran, the suburb I live in. As one small part of it, I’m working with a group of elderly from the social flats – every week we meet to dance, and I can’t wait to reunite. 

Lindley Warren Mickunas, Untitled, 2020

Lindley Warren Mickunas

I look forward to embracing my nephews again under an Iowan sun.

Lola & Pani, Poland, 2018

Lola & Pani

This image is from our trip to Poland back in 2018, we spent summer days with friends by the lake, eating, drinking and taking pictures. We look forward to traveling and spending more time with our friends. 

David Brandon Geeting, Golden Oyster Village, 2020

David Brandon Geeting

I can’t wait to hug my friends again. I can’t wait to eat mushrooms with my friends again.

Nico Krijno, Mignonne, Evi & Lusine (seaside cutouts), 2019

Nico Krijno

“This is an image taken at our favourite beach a few hundred kilometres from where we live. I’m taking a picture of my pregnant wife taking a picture of our daughter. It’s our favourite thing to just impulsively book a BnB and drive there to spend the weekend.  I look forward to going there soon and putting little baby girl’s feet in the water; we might even see some whales. This is a very confusing time for kids. My daughter keeps asking me, when can we go for a drive to that place or school; when can I see my friends? It’s awful. 

Xiaopeng Yuan, Temporary Building, 2020, from the series Campaign Child

Xiaopeng Yuan

I am feeling more confused about the future this year, and I am not sure what to do about it. This feeling is very painful, and I’m not sure when it’s going to get better; I wait with optimism. I created this photo and it seems to fit my current state so well. I can’t wait to see the end of this crisis.

Guen Fiore, Summer of Love, 2018 

Guen Fiore

I shot this story on a sunny, summer day in Rome. This is such a precious memory to me. I remember the warm atmosphere, the golden light and the joyful company. I’m really looking forward to more days like this one. 

Bea De Giacomo, Amanda by the sea, 2019 

Bea De Giacomo

There are two things I miss the most and that I look forward to when we’re free to move again. One is to travel and immerse myself in nature. I also can’t wait to see, touch and breath in the people I love; my friends, my family. I can’t wait to go back to live and enjoy every moment with some lightness and playfulness. 

Tania France Klein, Las Horas (self-portrait) sequence, 2020 

Tania Franco Klein

When I started working on this piece during the first two weeks of quarantine I was thinking of the relativity of time and how slow and confusing it feels during these strange times. I thought of slow movement and repetition, which during a normal routine could represent a small part of a minute but in our current everyday life, in the middle of a pandemic, it could actually be a whole day. I selected this piece because I miss the richness and diversity of my everyday perception of time, I miss and I very much look forward to days that don’t mesh into the other and where time doesn’t melt until it becomes unrecognizable. 

Sophie Green, Band Practice, 2019

Sophie Green

This image of a Bulgarian marching band practising in their school playground reflects a great sense of solidarity. Ultimately, we all depend on community, unity, love and connection and I think these are the values that give us all hope and will help us move past this moment. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with communities and groups of people I used to photograph before isolation lockdown.  

Max Miechowski, Sunday Gathering, 2018

Max Miechowski

This image, made during the summer of 2018, serves to remind me of the importance of our local communities, and the simple pleasure of spending time in each other’s company. I am hopeful that this experience, however difficult, will help to align our priorities and create a stronger sense of community and togetherness in the future. 

Thomas Albdorf, Monument For The Thirst (If You Build It, It Will Come) At Pink Motel, March 2020, from the series The Promised Land

Thomas Albdorf

This image, albeit constructed and shot in isolation in my studio, on a quick view emulates a situation at The Pink Motel in Los Angeles. I finished the image with the help of my girlfriend when social distancing was already in full effect here in Vienna, Austria. As with many of my other works, I tried to create something that could sort of carry me to a faraway place, and I’m looking forward to doing just that after isolation. 

Sam Youkilis, Tulum, 2019

Sam Youkilis

I scrolled through a folder of work I made a year ago and stopped at this photograph of people at a beach in Tulum, Mexico. The space between the people, their unawareness of each other and a general feeling of positivity across the image made me pause. I look forward to experiencing something similar soon.