The current Covid-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected communities and people who were already marginalised, discriminated, and at the throng of continuous injustices and inequalities. We are bringing together stories, investigations from around the world to highlight and advocate and create the important exposure to leverage and bring about positive changes.
In the 8th edition of the Journal on “Injustice & Inequalities: Covid-19”, we present the work of four great photographers Nic Madge, Victoria Herranz, Zula Rabikowska and Valeria Luongo, who present and share realities being effected by the ever changing society during the pandemic from the tremendous challenges of the refugees and impoverished populations in Sicily, the documentation of the social impact of the pandemic on the people of St Albans in the UK , the vulnerabilities of the elders in Italy, and the enormous human rights strike on the right of abortion for women in Poland.
The pandemic has widened social inequalities and injustices and this journal is sharing realities, issues and disparities that we need to see, reflect upon and action.
Photo editor: Cinzia D’Ambrosi
The People of St Albans in the Time of Covid
Living through the Covid pandemic is the biggest challenge faced by the people of St Albans for over seventy years. It is also history in the making. December, when St Albans was only in Tier 2, feels like history. The impact of the virus has changed so rapidly that December 2020 is indeed history. Future generations will study the pandemic and analyse how it changed the social, economic and political fabric of this country.
As a photographer living in St Albans, I am working with St Albans Museums, The Herts Advertiser, St Albans BID, local community groups and businesses to record the way in which we are surviving the pandemic. I am doing that by making portraits of people, mainly in the Market Place, but also elsewhere in town, as they go about their daily lives; shopping; working; exercising etc. I am taking photographs of people both wearing and not wearing their Covid-safety masks. I am asking everyone photographed to write a few words about the pandemic and how it has affected them. I am producing the portraits as digital diptychs – portraits of each person with and without a mask, side by side, with a short caption beneath. The portraits reflect the vitality and diversity of St Albans.
In return for participation in the project, I am emailing a free portrait to everyone photographed.
As well as photographing in the Market Place, when able to do so, I have collaborated with local community groups and charities to photograph their members, including Open Door (housing for homeless people), Passport to Leisure, The Daylight Club (both giving support to young adults with disabilities) and the Sopwell Community Trust (which inter alia delivers food boxes to vulnerable people).
The captions enable the people of St Albans to express themselves; to reveal their experiences, both bad and good; and to mention their hopes and fears. The project has shown that, although St Albans is a relatively affluent city, there are huge disparities in the way in which the pandemic has affected people. The lives of some have been devastated. Others have hardly been touched. The comments included in the captions are very varied and provide a real insight into the effect of the pandemic. They show great public strength and resilience, but private pain and angst.
I hope the project will run for a year, with images and comments divided into monthly chapters so that we can see how experiences and attitudes change over time. Clothing will reflect the changing seasons and perhaps even evolving moods. The portraits with captions will enter the archives of St Albans Museums so that future generations of Albanians will be able to see what we look like and read our short comments about the pandemic. They will also be exhibited in the Museum + Gallery when it re-opens, hopefully on May 17th (after lockdown) until September 30th. They will also be preserved in the British Library digital archives and be exhibited on the Photojournalism Hub website. And, after completion of the project, the diptychs will be available to be exhibited elsewhere either (i) as one multi-media presentation; (ii) a series of monthly multi-media presentations; or (iii) as traditional photographic prints.
But I don’t want this just to be a dry historical record. I want this to be an immediate, ongoing, inter-active project involving all the communities of St Albans. I am uploading a monthly collection of diptychs with a soundtrack onto YouTube. Here are hyperlinks to the monthly editions for October, November, December 2020, January and February 2021. I am also making the images immediately available via Instagram and Facebook (including the All Things St Albans; St Albans Past and Present; St Albans People and Isolation Arts Café Facebook groups), web-sites, digital screens in local businesses and the local press. For example, Ashtons, estate agents in London Road, are displaying some of the images on their street facing digital wall and including them in their newsletter. Some have been reproduced in the Herts Advertiser, My Local News and on the BBC website.
Weather permitting, I will be standing outside the old Town Hall which houses the St Albans Museum + Gallery a couple of days a week. If you wish to be photographed, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to agree a mutually convenient time and date.
I am very conscious of Covid-safety issues and ensure that social distancing is maintained at all times. I provide hand-sanitiser. All photographs are taken in the open air.
I am a photographer who lives in St Albans. I have recently completed an M.A. in Documentary Photography and Photo-journalism at the University of the Arts, London. Previously, I have published photo-books and had solo exhibitions of my portraits/street photography at the British Museum and the Swiss Cottage Gallery, as well as several joint exhibitions.
ABORTION PROTESTS IN POLAND
IN THE SICILIAN BOAT
Palermo, the capital of Sicily, and the collateral consequences of the pandemic.
In a broken land, punished economic and socially, without jobs, with a high rate of exodus and migration, the situation has been aggravated because COVID-19 lockdown.
Now, Palermo is face to face with a known enemy: the hunger, the fear, the death. Different organizations and social movement have joined forces to improve quality of life for all citizens. It doesn’t matter where you were born, the color of your skin, your faith. You are sicilian now. And we’re in the same boat… Frontiers begin to open three mouths after lockdown. But the pain of hit, in this wounded land, will last a long time. Beyond the crisis, the Mafia and the pandemic Palermo resists.
Many families in a very delicate situation met face to face with the hunger.©Victoria Herranz
Palermo began to undergo collateral consequences when the Italian government decreed the national lockdown. Only activities considered essential could continued their work in a very limited way.©Victoria Herranz
Rome, December 2020 – January 2021
What does it mean to give up a year of your life when you are elderly and considered among the most vulnerable group in society?
Since the beginning of the Covid 19 epidemic in Italy, the country in Europe with the oldest population, people over 65 at a higher risk of infection have been asked to take a very different sacrifice to the young in society; to potentially spend the final years of their life in quarantine. Old people have been constantly fearful of becoming new victims. Even those who would still otherwise be mentally, socially and physically active found themselves completely isolated from their youngest relatives or friends.
I photographed and asked old people, all over 65 and under 100, to talk about their first covid year, to imagine their future and that of society and to reflect about later life in times of pandemic. They shared an insight about the passing of time, the challenges and hope for the future. As the members of society with the most life experience it was interesting to hear what they had to say about the current crisis that sees them at the center of it.
“I still prefer the poverty of my childhood to what we have now.
It was a more honest, healthy environment. Today we can count on big
industries but inequalities are stronger than ever”.
“The world is changing in a radical way. I was part of it: I was born
within the change, I saw its development and I can still see it going
further. The world will become more homogenous and I am really
positive about this process”.
“If there weren’t books, cinema, radio I would have got ill. How could
we live without the arts? Knowledge is so necessary to survive hard
times. In these past months this has been my window to the world”.
“The crisis started as soon as we abandoned the land.
We are not walking on the right path: we need to take a step back and
start again from there. The land is the base of life”.