New work by artist Rydel Cerezo (BFA 2019) documenting his time spent in close quarters with family members during the COVID-19 lockdown is currently showing in a pair of exhibitions as part of the 2020 Capture Photography Festival.
The stunning photographs reveal a hushed interplay between bodies and light, communicating a blurry state of timelessness that reflects the fugue-like experience of spending weeks stranded in territories and social groups radically shrunken by the threat of the pandemic. The impression of compressed time and place is further reinforced by the boundedness of depicted space: each environment is delimited by a wall, a fence, a window, conveying a sense that the figures exist in a place both private and profoundly finite.
“With all of this time we are left to deal with, I began to realize the value of slowness in myself and practice,” Rydel said via email. “As compelled as I am to be constantly making work — and feeling guilty when I don’t — I am learning to appreciate the patience it takes to create something personal and meaningful.”
Embracing this demand for greater patience has actually helped further collapse the space between Rydel’s practice and his personal life, he said.
“My relationship to my practice became similar to the relationships I have fostered with each of my family members — I have to be patient in allowing them to trust and unfold for me,” he wrote. “Moreover, lockdown has made me re-look at my family and the unique relationships I have with each member, as well as confront tensions that were overlooked over the past years. In this case, the loss of monetary labour is replaced with a more intimate form of labour in reconnecting with the subjects I can only intimately engage with.”
This intimacy is clearly visible in the bearing of Rydel’s subjects as they stoop, interact, pause in contemplation, or soften into stasis — their eyes turned to each other, to what’s directly in front of them, or perhaps simply turned inward.
Rydel suggests the photographs are the product of a similar transformation of his own practice of “looking”:
"This whole situation with COVID-19 has physically forced us away from public spaces into our own dwelling places,” he wrote. “Naturally, this has caused an introspective shift within my practice and my own sense of ‘looking.’ As much as I want to return to the ‘outside’ world, I suddenly have the privilege of exploring a unique sense of freedom protected by my own private realm.”
You can see a selection of Rydel’s photos on Capture’s website, as well as at rydelcerezo.com. You can also tune in to hear Rydel give a talk on his current work from 4pm to 5pm on Tuesday, April 28th, presented by the Capture Photography Festival. Rydel will be joined by fellow artists Adad Hannah (BFA 1994) and Maegan Hill-Carroll for the online-only event. Registration is required, and can be completed online through the Capture Photo Fest’s website.