By Dr Evangeline Tsao, Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York
A few weeks into the lockdown, a friend nominated me on Twitter to take on a ‘Life in Pictures’ challenge, with the rules ‘no people, no words, no explanations’. Taking pictures for me is an everyday practice, so at the start, I did not anticipate this to be a ‘challenge’. A few days in, however, I began to feel the unease. Having to pull myself back from offering a few words of context or reflection on such a public forum, I wondered how my images may be meaningful. I also noticed that I was reluctant to share pictures taken inside of the house. Ever since the lockdown, bits and bits of our private space had been compartmented, disguised to be ‘professional’ – or at least I tried – in order to be presentable for video conferencing. The house is full of stuff. Things that are the cat’s, things that are ours, things that are our landlord’s, all formulating the messy backgrounds that I intended to avoid.
Once I became aware of this, I decided to be deliberate. I do not have Joe Wicks’ lounge or Jamie Oliver’s kitchen. There is no private garden. I am still going through periods of anxiety and stress that paralyze me from academic work. Life during lockdown has been constant negotiations of space, time and chores with my partner. So much more cleaning, and sometimes daily walks can feel like a chore. I struggle when thinking about my ‘East-Asian’ culture and identity, outside of the house and beyond the physical confines. While my body is suddenly hyper-visible, my voice is diminished.
This developing photo essay is a reflection as well as an exploration. I scrabble around to try and tell my stories in different languages. It is less filtered and, at times, instinctive. It is also about finding some fun in the not-so-mundane life during lockdown.
This is the sixth in our Feminist Everyday Lockdown Blog Series. Lockdown is a feminist issue, and sharing stories is a feminist practice. We are calling for further contributions to the CHASE Feminist Network blog on everyday feminism and lockdown. This includes creative, political, and personal reflections! Full details here
Read more on performance in lockdown with Imaginary Songs from the Feminist Future: Unlocking Creativity in Lockdown by @heat_mcknight and HOW ARE YOU? HOW ARE YOU FEELING RIGHT NOW? Wrestling with Wellbeing when All the World’s a Screen by @elly_clarke reinjecting meaning into asking ‘How are you?’
Catch up on other Feminist Everyday Lockdown Blogs: Flat, Flat, Flat by @marianasra who we thank for sharing her story of waiting, being and uncertainty in lockdown, and Finding Rest During Covid-19 Lockdown: Rejecting Capitalistic Productivity by @dr_ogbemudia good advice on “spending” time, and finding time to ‘be’!
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