When the lockdown came, the photographer had just finished his last photo project. He was visiting his parents in Regensburg, Germany, to get some rest when the news reported that the universities were closing. Thrilled by the idea, he wrote a note to his parents on the kitchen table, «Unis are closed, might stay a few more days».The joy didn’t last long. At some point he had watched all the movies on his Netflix watchlist and listened to all his favorite records. He wished the university could go back to normal.
When, at the end of last year, he got the assignment from Die Zeit to photograph his generation in Corona times, Valentin finally grasped the relevance of the subject and got a taste for the story in its entirety. Suddenly he felt like he had a special view on things and his perspective was even relevant. On New Year’s Eve, the photographer started with his first subject. His girlfriend’s brother was meeting with his two best friends for the first time in many months.
Such scenes occurred again and again. All of the young people in his environment were suitable protagonists, all of them had a story to tell, and for all of them the pandemic was an exceptional situation. Even friends who were firmly established in life suddenly began to wobble. For the photographer it was not difficult to explain to them what he was looking for. They were all in the middle of it and knew how the others were feeling.
Valentin took photos of friends and acquaintances of acquaintances. For the most part, however, they were the people he had missed for months. He sometimes moved into their shared flats, photographed them smoking pot and having lunch with their parents. Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, he took many photos of the inescapable closeness that being at home brought. Many couldn’t breathe. People had moved back in with their parents, out of their newly won freedom. The pandemic seems to have the inescapable power of bringing all inner conflicts to light. Demons that had been well under control in everyday life also thanks to the many distractions we can enjoy, finally broke free and took over. Some of his friends had trouble reconnecting with people after the winter, and he was no different. The “not knowing where to go with yourself”, not yet having a clue where to hold on when everything is shaking: That’s maybe part of the state between being a kid and being an adult anyway. Corona acts as a catalyst here.
Copyright: © Valentin Goppel