“I was busy completing my final year at university in London when COVID-19 turned the world inside-out. My panic-stricken mother urged me over the phone to fly back to Singapore to tide over the pandemic with family at home. I quickly booked tickets and did as my mother told me, ‘Run!’. In less than 48 hours I was back home, but I couldn't hug or interact with my family, I couldn't be within two meters of them, and they all stayed far away from me, fear present on their faces. There, I legally had to stay for two weeks in self-isolation, I became a prisoner in my own home, stuck in a room I couldn't leave. My family waved at me through the window, talked to me on the phone and left me food outside my door.”—Lena Stewen

scroll right for more

Lena Stewen
‘One Long Day’(2020)
Photographic series

‘One Long Day’ is a set of 14 photographs taken by Lena Stewen during an enforced two-week quarantine. Each image represents a day in isolation, and each is different. Yet the familiar objects, actions and colours seen across the set of images cause a visual repetition in keeping with the experience of having to self-isolate in a single room. “Monotony becomes prevalent as the images are presented in chronological order, left to right, mimicking a film reel showing stills of my life”, writes Lena of the work. Permeated with the sadness of isolation, this is nevertheless a set of captivating and atmospheric images. A reading lamp illuminates the otherwise dimly-lit space, creating a cinematic feel. Electronic devices provide a limited connection to the outside world, while a simple water glass takes on a poetic resonance in this contemplative scene.