Alessia Barbezat, Head of Communication and Public Relations, discusses the theme of the week: “Express”.
As part of the “COVID-19 and Us by Magnum Photos and You” project, we invited you to share with us your stories, impressions and experiences of the pandemic. We have to admit, we were surprised by the large amount of testimonies received! Not only from Switzerland, but also from Italy, Canada, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States. Thank you all!
Moving, poetic, atypical, sometimes humorous, these testimonies show that the need to express oneself can take many forms, but above all it is vital.
I am sharing a first selection with you here, and I look forward to seeing you in the fall for a film projection in the Museum’s spaces, where your vision will meet that of the Magnum Photos photographers.
I live in a typical ancient block of flats with characteristic courtyards (so called “railing house”) in old Milan. I moved there in 2017, in love with its colorful, dense and human body. The deaf deflagration of Covid-19 and the imposition of quarantine have delivered to the address of this court a precious gift: slow time. Now there are not just the cloths stretched out in the sun with stiff bulk, the puffs smelling of sauce and fried between the flights of stairs, but also those who read, who cultivate suntans, the nosy peeping Tom and there are those, who, like me, are looking for a breath of fresh air among the light of the courtyards. I learn the gestures of each one, the timbres of their voices just now and, without a little embarassment, I discover after years their names. I live in via Rubens 9 and when the time of life won’t be enough again, we will stop one more day to get the biggest building party started, something never seen before at this address. C.
© Camilla Piana, Milan, Italy
New York, I live there, I love it, madly. She became unrecognizable with Covid-19. Walking mortuaries in front of hospitals, wide deserted avenues, everyone in masks. Silence, too. And the noise of the ambulances at the same time. Yeah, New York is unrecognizable. But New York is still New York. It will be again. Fascinated by photography and curious by nature, I have been walking the city's neighborhoods regularly since 2016, when I moved to the United States as a correspondent for Le Temps. I like to wander around, discovering its every nook and cranny. The coronavirus imposed a different rhythm on me. But as soon as I started going out again, it was never without my camera. This sleepy, grieving New York City, I had to document it. Valérie de Graffenried
© Valérie de Graffenried, New-York, USA
Our existence as society and individuals is fragile and everything depends on each other much more than we normally believe. International solidarity would be desirable. Our excessive lifestyle is called into question. Roland Schmid
© Roland Schmid, Basel, Switzerland
My life hasn’t really changed much, my youngest child has been fighting cancer for the past year so my family had already been used to being in a hospital room we were recently sent home in after care and we are thank you for the quarantine it is giving us a sense of privacy and no pressure to see all the people who have sent us well wishes while keeping our son who is immune compromised safe. The most difficult part for us is going to the hospital for monthly blood samples during the pandemic afraid of coming into co tact with anyone with covid-19. The love for the frontline workers has been so easy for us and fun every night our street makes noise, we play music sometimes have a theme, we actually look forward to waving to the neighbours and making noise. I do think there will be a second wave of the virus. The pandemic revealed how scared I am to have a child in remission from cancer during a pandemic but cancer doesn’t stop during a crisis. Photo my daughter with her mask. Stacey Farrand
© Stacey Farrand, Canada
Before Covid, I had my dream job. At 20, I was the VP Support & Trustee of a Students’ Union, representing the wellbeing of 18 000 students. It was a very mentally exhausting yet highly rewarding job. Working from home suddenly made everything extremely hard to complete. I quit in May 2020 from my dream job. With my free time, two students and myself set up a Charity Run to raise money for Samaritans. Research has proven that physical activity has a positive correlation of mental wellbeing. By the end of the competition, we had 400 students, staff and members of the wider community running, as well as GB Athletes and Olympians, raising an astonishing £3,000. We were awarded Community Champion for our contribution to society and received a thank you from the CEO of Samaritans. Now, I work on the frontline of Covid as a Medical Lab Assistant helping prepare blood samples for immunity test. Covid has made my life so difficult but somehow changed it for the better. Sarah Surget
© Sarah Surget, UK
Roman Catholic Church of Sainte-Clotilde, Geneva, Switzerland, May 2020: the FFP2 mask has replaced the sprinkler. Pascal Gondrand
© Pascal Gondrand, Switzerland
COVID-19 pandemic struck our lives without any real notice. Restrictive measures were adopted around the whole globe to limit and slow down coronavirus diffusion. Nearly half of the world population was on lockdown. We were forced (or strongly suggested) to stay at home. There were only a few essential reasons for which we were allowed to go out. Going to the supermarket was one of them. However, even a task as simple as grocery shopping was affected by the pandemic. Queues were formed outside the shops to limit the amount of people inside, and only one person per household was usually allowed to get in. Thus, my wife and I started to plan together in advance what to buy for our weekly groceries. Getting ready to go out for shopping then became some sort of ritual, with specific tasks ordered in a specific sequence. Writing down the shopping list. Wearing a face mask. Wearing gloves. Put on the shoes. I hope that in the future we won’t take our freedom for granted ever again. Mattia Cacciotti
© Mattia Cacciotti, Switzerland
UEFA press conference to announce the cancellation of EURO 2020. The spokesperson is standing on the roof of the building and the journalists are several dozen metres away on the pavement by the roadside. An unusual and unique scene in the history of press conferences. Marlène Gallay
© Marlène Gallay, Switzerland
The General Directorate of Civil Protection and Emergencies with the Spanish Red Cross, has launched the #YoHagoPorTi campaign, aimed at promoting behaviors that promote solidarity with neighbors who are more vulnerable to the pandemic generated by Covid-19: elderly, sick or disabled. In this campaign they are very simple actions, such as asking them if they need something, knowing how they are, bringing them food or medicine. In addition, we must report possible scams and deceits that we can detect in their environment. It is also up to each person to comply with the basic measures of hygiene and social distance that we have to follow when we interact with them, to protect them from contact with the outside. Small gestures, but that will help them cope better with this situation. In short, it is about transmitting affection and support to the people with whom we live in our neighborhood and who are most vulnerable in these times of adversity. Cristina Embil
© Cristina Embil, Spain
My many trips to communities in the Amazon had already made me realize the humanitarian and ecological state of emergency at stake. Unfortunately, I see that we always have to wait for a disaster to strike. The most difficult thing for me during this crisis is to know that I am privileged compared to my very vulnerable Xikrin friends and the many needy people who live in my city. In the end, this period did not change much in me because my artistic practices have always been socially engaged. However, I was delighted to see a great surge of solidarity in my surroundings and beyond. Together with my friend Silvana Mastromatteo from La Caravane de la Solidarité and my family, I actively participated in the donations and distributions on Friday and Saturday of April-May at the Vernets ice rink. In my opinion, if we don't learn a beautiful life lesson from what has just happened, the human being will disappear. Aurélien Fontanet
© Aurélien Fontanet, Geneva, Switzerland