“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
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‘One Long Day’(2020)
‘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.