Ou Lin

Outdoor Survival Guide

c-type prints

Outdoor Survival Guide is a photo-based art project that I developed out of my studio practice in response to the shifts in the way people presented themselves during the U.K. Coronavirus lockdown. While working in London, I was inspired to respond to changes in the everyday lives and dress of the people around me. In images I saw online, I took note of people who were unable to buy masks and were making their own out of anxiety and fear. Their self-protective wear seemed to function as both a type of performance of safety and as a form armour, like battle gear. I also noticed how this kept people from each other, signifying a changing relationship between the individual and public space, from one of perceived freedom and togetherness to one of suffocation and a sense of collective isolation.

In establishing a critical framework for this work, I referenced concepts and theoretical ideas. For example, military language that has been used in political contexts to talk about COVID19 as an "invisible enemy" (Trump, 2020) with essential workers as the soldiers who are fighting this battle for us on the frontline.

The style of photography I have adopted uses quite formal composition and a tableaux style. There is a sense of self protection as a form of performance. Lastly, I hope it raises questions about the language of war, fighting, and bravery we are using to describe personal protective equipment, which is, particularly in the UK, normalizing the death toll. I would like people to question if it is truly unavoidable for these people to die.

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