Xan Padron, Sven Pfrommer, Mario Rossi, and Ellen Friedlander explore this complex relationship between identity and society.
Research shows that the psychological impacts of the coronavirus pandemic extend far beyond the innate fear of contraction. Driven by the emerging need to support society’s growing exposure to stress, studies were conducted to measure the levels of social and community uneasiness. Social distancing, while shown to be a viable solution to preventing the spread of Covid-19, has adverse effects on the mental health of it’s participants. Separation from loved ones, long hours spent inside, uncertainty about the future, and feelings of helplessness lead to dramatic consequences, as anxiety and depression find their way into the population at record breaking levels. Paired with a growing dependency on technology to communicate with each other, some experts have theorized that people could be led to distance themselves even after the emergency situation has passed, perpetuating social phobias and further strengthening the relationship between human and machine. Once often undervalued in psychological well being, specialists are starting to point to a deeper need for individuals to feel like an integral part of society.
Xan Padron, Sven Pfrommer, Mario Rossi, and Ellen Friedlander explore this complex relationship between identity and society. The individual’s place among the whole is explored through the use of subject and form. Their subjects are often those walking the streets, blissfully unaware of their involvement, as the photo catches them in their natural state. The use of form highlights the meticulous care that they take in their presentation. Whether it be fragmenting, compiling, or altering their photographs post production, there is a calculated aspect to the inherent randomness of their pieces as form is loud in its ability to voice the energy of its subject. These compounding and always evolving thoughts in the subject’s mind cannot be heard by others. Our mental struggles are often hidden away from those we walk alongside, and in this time of shared hardship, the photograph becomes an ever more important medium. It acts as an agent between subject and viewer, a documenter of roads traveled, and a predictor of paths ahead. Through the lens of these artists, we are reminded of times before, and faced with the realities of today.
The Fragmented Frame compares the societal imagery between the pre-Covid world and our current reality. Much of the images from 2011-2018 on display will feel foreign to us, as maskless faces walk the busy streets and lovers huddle close to each other in alleyways as in Ellen Friedlander’s 2018, “It’s a Mao Kind of Day;” the sound of hundreds of pairs of feet hit the ground on a cross walk in Sven Pfrommer’s 2018 piece,“Hong Kong Urban Arch XXXI;” an elderly man descends down the staircase of a public building without a worry in Mario Rossi’s 2019, “Vitra House IV.” As the pieces shift into years 2020 and 2021, the effects of lockdowns are present both physically and mentally. Isolated bodies walk the once bustling streets in dark tones as in Mario Rossi’s 2020, “Lockdown;” bodies sit lonely with eyes fixated on screens as in Ellen Friedlander’s telling 2021 piece, “New Year.” Our physical experience with one another has shifted, but it is pieces like Xan Padron’s 2020 “Time Lapse. Hell’s Kitchen, NYC '' that remind us we are not alone.
We all yearn to be a part of something, but when that something becomes disrupted, what does it look like once the dust has settled? Artists like Xan Padron, Sven Pfrommer, Mario Rossi, and Ellen Friedlander act as messengers, their pieces dissecting the collective human consciousness along the time continuum of past, present, and future.
Curated and written by Isabella Sandstead