Still Life by Same Paper

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The latest book by Shanghai-based publishing studio Same Paper, Still Life brings together 13 international photographers exploring their lockdown experience

Covid-19 has trapped the world at home. National lockdowns have caused millions of bored, trapped, stagnant humans. This is in contrast to the expected life of a photographer: the singular artist, camera in hand, roaming the world, traversing border after border to get that perfect shot. It is an art, which for most, requires one to leave the house. It is quite easy to imagine how this has limited most photographers. The brief for Still Life was simple: create a story about your lockdown.

‘Games People Play', 2020 © Caroline Tompkins.

The publication is very much aware of the long western canon of still life. Artists have been tackling the genre for centuries, but due to the current climate, life itself has become the static subject. It is in this lack of movement that the book finds its originality. The work produced is a look into the lives of the artists, and the small worlds each have built for themselves over lockdown. Life with young children, seeing friends from a window, and the awkward intimacy of an unexpected roommate. Life continues within each of the photographers’ bubbles, the images acting as postcards from each artist and their individual lockdown world. The book includes work by 13 international artists, including Charles Negre, Harley Weir, David Brandon Geeting, Xiaopeng Yuan, and Caroline Tompkins.

‘Quarantine Man', 2020 © David Brandon Geeting.

Everybody has lockdown memories. Some good, some sad, and some mundane. Still Life uses the vision of 13 artists to give insight into the sublime mundanity of a Covid-19 year. Although everyone’s lockdown experiences differed greatly, we can all find a shared experience within these works.

The mundanity of the domestic can be transformed when one spends multiple months in the same chair, bed, or desk. Objects such as discarded toys, soap in the sink, and crisps on the shelf become fascinating subjects. Items which would go years unnoticed become the muse of the bored photographer. Despite the stagnancy of a still life, beauty in one’s surroundings can still be found.

‘Colls Road’, 2020 © Harley Weir.

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.