On March 14, 2020, while the coronavirus pandemic continued to grip the world, Adad Hannah began his Social Distancing Portraits. A compilation of short, unedited videos comprised of the people he encountered on the street, the portraits include a diverse range of individuals, families, friends, shopkeepers, students, a clinic worker and even those recorded in their homes, all using a long lens from a distance of at least 5 metres. While shot on the streets in his neighbourhood in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver, and largely containing images of strangers from afar, these works are very much portraits—intimate, unwavering, and direct.
Technically, these works are short, non-narrative videos set to atmospheric music that amplifies the poignancy of the works’ subjects. However, at approximately 20 seconds in length, these durational works seem to flicker somewhere between still and moving images. The subjects remain static while typically gazing directly at the camera. The works act as studies of the individuals featured with the durational component serving to intensify the viewer’s gaze and, ultimately, their relationship with the subject.
First presented on social media, the videos are accompanied by quotes from the individuals presented, offering further insight into their thoughts and emotional states during this uncertain time. Their concerns echo one another and are often related to financial stress, panic buying, and the isolation with which people are faced. Shot during a period of “social distancing” mandated by health and governmental authorities in an attempt to deter the further spread of the coronavirus, the portraits serve as a powerful reminder of the ability art has to connect across physical distance.
All works are videos and are Courtesy of the Artist and Equinox Gallery.