By Oscar LaVerde
LONDON, ONTARIO — I do this exercise with a lot of the pictures I take. I forget about them for months and come back later to see if their value is still intact. Some need more time to mature, and others, after all the hype is gone, seem to lose all their value, then I proceed to delete them, making the photos and I free from each other.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been, time after time, coming back to a set of images I took in the Montreal Metro last year. They are very grainy, and I wasn’t sure if I should keep them or not. But today, with the whole planet living under the shadow of a pandemic, due to the coronavirus COVID-19, and living under self-isolation like many others around the world, I started thinking about the time I spent in Montreal, carelessly riding their public transit in rush hour.
Images full of people with the space they once occupied, and the smells that once bother me so much. All seems to come back, in a melancholic form, I can’t stop thinking they now look like ghosts from a pre-virus era, all oblivious of the world we all share.
Today, we are all passing through a moment of uncertainty and fear. We are at home with time to contemplate all the right and wrong we are all doing to this planet we call home. We can not keep living like the ghosts of the past. We are getting out of this, that’s for sure. The question is, what kind of humanity is on the other side of the tunnel. Let’s take this time to breathe and reconsider everything. Let’s not waste this opportunity, to meditate, to reinvent us, never before so many humans have been sent home to hide in times of peace. Use this fear and this social distancing to look inside and make a change. Our lives are inevitably going to be different after the pandemic. We have the power to decide what kind of society we want to be after this.
We all hope there is light at the end of this dark period. I want these pictures to reflect the ambivalence we are all living under. Using high contrast black and white images is my way of revealing what I’m feeling at this moment. Please stay inside, don’t leave your home and if you are one of the lucky ones, stay with your family. There is a lot more good in doing that than you can imagine.