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Julia Keil


Becoming in isolation.

I returned to Paris after two months in London, as more and more countries began shutting their borders due to the current Covid-19 pandemic. I made it back home, just in time for the lockdown on the city. Rather than going out and reconnecting with the streets I love to roam, I found myself abruptly bound to the constraints of my 6th floor flat. Like many, I was suddenly isolated and uncertain of tomorrow. I felt as if in a dream, living somewhere between the real and surreal with the only guidance being news stories, hearsay and the changes I observed happening around me from day to day.

Every time I’d listen to the tragic and frightening stories happening all across the globe as a result of this health crisis, the words ‘it’s like something from an apocalyptic movie’ would escape me. I also quickly realised that with no work & no social life, I had gone from having no time to having plenty. All excuses I gave myself for not pursuing my creative ideas prior, were now void.

I decided to turn my camera, most often turned on others, onto myself and see where it would take me with the intention to explore this unpredictable world of stories wavering between fact and fiction, with the hope that I would in some way provide some joy to those that viewed them.  I gathered inspiration from the present and the past, from various paintings, photographs, cinema, fashion, the daily news and observations of my everyday.

I took the creations of others and found their relevance to the present day.

Each day I decided on a portrait, I’d immerse myself into that world. I researched, listened to the music from that era or movie soundtrack and watched movies and documentaries. I studied the pose and emotion which a chosen image or painting exuded and of course, gave myself the time taking the picture and processing it after to create the desired effect. Everything which formed each image, I improvised with what I already had at home with the exception of a couple wigs which I ordered on Amazon before the French government suspended all non-essential orders.

Objects and images started taking on a new relevance in the present day and some objects such as face masks, hand sanitiser, cell phones, gloves and toilet paper, have become a sign of the times which I try to explore in some of the portraits.

Each photo has taken me on a journey of exploration, challenges and relating and learning, all without leaving my home. Pursuing this on-going project has given a structure and a playground to my days in lockdown as well as a means to visually communicate what I and others could be feeling or experiencing. Having the world slow down, despite the tragic circumstances, on some aspects can be taken as a gift. A gift that can be filled with not just fear but with hope and an opportunity to reflect, to learn and to re-connect in ways we perhaps had pushed aside in the world that used to be.

Julia Keil 




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