“Quarantine windows” was a photography project implemented during the first lockdown. With the beginning of the first quarantine our usual life was “suspended” for a while, no travels, no meetings with relatives and friends, no restaurants, no shops and so on. We had to get used to living between the four walls temporarily and look at the world through the computer screens or… windows. Therefore, the project “Quarantine windows” aimed to reveal what quarantine of various people (both families and individuals, seniors and children, etc.) looks like, to convey their moods and emotions through the portraits.
The authors of the idea were the community program “Fluxus Labas” of the public institution “Kaunas 2022” and the Lithuanian photographer Gabija Vainiūtė. “Kaunas 2022” was established to implement the cultural program “Kaunas – European Capital of Culture 2022”. As it is stated in the official website “The organization aims at the union of cultural organizations and creators in the Kaunas region, Lithuania and Europe for a common goal: a process that reveals the diversity of European cultures and our local identity in it, which would involve local people and partners from various sectors”. Over the last years “Kaunas 2022” successfully implemented the greater part of the cultural programme and 2022 will be a one-year long celebration for Kaunas and the Kaunas District. “Fluxus Labas” is a community program of the public institution “Kaunas 2022” established in Kaunas with the aim to unite locals, artists, creators, activists, entrepreneurs, educators and everyone else who wants to contribute to the creation and activation of their place of residence through the artistic and creative activities.
During the time of the strict quarantine “Fluxus Labas” invited residents to create with a special slogan “Together create, when we isolate!”. The project “Quarantine windows” is the result of one of their invitations. When the open call for ideas for cultural support during the quarantine was announced, one of them was presented by the Lithuanian photographer Gabija Vainiūtė. During the first quarantine she captured people and their emotions through the windows. “The project was a result of perception that this pandemic will be a historic moment in time that needs to be documented and also out of pure eagerness to take pictures of people and connect when it might seem impossible” – the emergence of the author’s idea described on the website of project “Europe at Home”.
Today we live with the easier quarantine conditions, in many places it is no longer so strict, we can freely meet relatives and friends, travel, do shopping, eat in restaurants, and participate in various events. However, the first quarantine will definitely remain stuck in our memory, and because of the project “Quarantine Windows” – also in the photos. The idea for the project came about to inspire the communities not to lose their creativity during the quarantine period. People were invited to suggest their own ideas on how to keep culture and art in mind while staying at home. Photographer Gabija Vainiutė came up with the idea to photograph people’s portraits through the windows and thus capture the quarantine – people’s emotions, life, thus showing the reality of quarantine. The invitation to be photographed was made public on social networks and received great interest. Residents of both the city and the district responded to the invitation.
The photographer visited more than thirty “windows” in Vilnius and Kaunas and captured different people and their emotions. The project involved various people, families with children, single and sometimes lonely people, seniors, and employees of some institutions. The complete safety of the participants and the photographer was ensured during the photography process. Photos were taken from the outside therefore any physical contact was avoided and distance was observed. The photo project “Quarantine Windows” turned into an exhibition, which could be safely visited on specified days in six places of interest in Kaunas. Later, more photographers from various Lithuanian and European cities joined the initiative.
The photos taken during the project gave a closer look at how people spend their days in the quarantine, how they were affected, the prevailing moods and emotions, it allowed to see the differences in quarantine life of various people. Also, people had the opportunity to talk to the photographer at a safe distance, share their experiences, and daily life moments. It was a diversification of the quarantine routine for people, and for some it may not have been the entertainment they lacked at the time because the live communication was limited and the contacts with other people were missed. Would be interesting to see the stories of these people next to the photos. The project became popular in other cities of Lithuania, various versions appeared, photographs were taken with drones as well. Moreover, this initiative inspired people not only in Lithuania but also abroad. The project “Quarantine Windows” has attracted interest in Europe. It inspired and led to the initiation of the project “Europe at Home”. The story started when the idea of the project reached the Portuguese city of Faro, which is a candidate to become the European Capital of Culture in 2027. Representatives of the Faro suggested inviting other cities to join the idea, and then creating a special website. They took the initiative to implement the idea themselves. Overall, 14 European cities joined the project with their interpretations. Thus appeared the photo work series with captured moments of quarantine in different European countries. In addition to the photographs, the authors of the texts were invited to join. They were asked to write short texts or poems about the quarantine. The works of all photographers and writers can be found on the project website.
After many years the pandemic period will be a history about which photos, videos or other material will tell us. Our life during the first lockdown will remain in the photos thanks to the photo project “Quarantine windows”. It is like a documented history. Even though not all of us participated in the project we can relate ourselves to the images because we all lived in the same conditions or as it popular to state “we all were in the same boat” (of course, there is no doubt that most of us have our personal photo or video projects of the quarantine ☺).
- Official webpage of the “Kaunas 2022”, “Kaunas 2022” iniciatyva “Karantino langai” sudomino Europą: projektas pasiekė 14 valstybių”, https://kaunas2022.eu/2020/05/13/kaunas-2022-iniciatyva-karantino-langai-sudomino-europa-projektas-pasieke-14-valstybiu/ (May 13, 2020)
- Official webpage of “Kaunas 2022”, About the project, https://kaunas2022.eu/en/about-the-project/# (accessed December 3, 2021).
- Official webpage of “Kaunas 2022”, „Fluxus Labas!“ https://kaunas2022.eu/fluxuslabas/ (accessed December 3, 2021).
- Official webpage of the project “Europe at home” https://www.europeathome.eu/ (accessed December 3, 2021).
Plungė District Municipal Public Library, manager of cultural activities Rūta Antanavičiūtė, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org