To say that things have gone arseways at the moment is a bit of an understatement. The world been engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic. As denial fades into an accepted reality for some parts of this country that have only gotten hit in the past few weeks, those who have taken for granted the comforts of a normal, interactive life are now adjusting to a new normal of self-isolation, shelter-in-place, quarantine, lockdown. I cannot help but to have a verse from one of my favourite Irish ballads running through my head in these times:
And when times got rough there was just about enough
But they saw it through without complaining
For deep inside was a burning pride
For the town I loved so well
80 Proof Photos has been on a hiatus from publishing since early January, before the pandemic hit the Midwest of the United States where our artists are based. They have been a bit busy with other projects and endeavours: one has been taking flying lessons, another has been busy with life in a new city and vocation and creating textile artisan works. I myself had been occupied with preparing and executing a photographic expedition to my beloved Curaçao to document Carnival at the end of February. It was only a fortnight after my return from that adventure that things started to get serious here in Chicago. Now, a month after complaining about how horrible it is to travel through Miami International Airport, I find myself with the rests of Chicagoans under a statewide shelter-in-place order since March 21 that is supposedly ending April 7, but realistically will most likely get extended to . . . some date.
So since I am confined to my flat for the time being–asides from my daily government-sanctioned short outdoor exercise or grocery run, or dropping off a few rolls of film to my developer as I did earlier today–this seems like a good time as any to resume publishing on 80 Proof Photos.
First up on this new season is what downtown Chicago looked like last Saturday just before the shelter-in-place order went into effect and a week later today. I have noticed some photos being posted on social media with some musings about how post-apocalyptic it all looks. If I am perfectly honest, however, asides from some higher-end businesses covering up their windows with plywood, it looks just the same as it would on any other early Sunday morning at daybreak, just sober and without staggering back home reeking of whisky. I know this from experience.
© Khoa Dao, K. Dao Photography, 80 Proof Photos