Photography has long had to do with far-flung places. Shortly after the birth of photography (in January 1839), it is striking to see how inventors, photographers and scholars of the second half of the 19th-century alike praised the newly born medium. As one of them famously noted – in awe looking at the pictures Maxime Du Camp shot in Egypt and Palestine in 1851-1852 – photography was to “retrieve the universe in a portfolio.” In fact, alongside telegraphy and steam engines that considerably shrunk distances between countries and continents, photography was instrumental in making the far an increasingly close neighbor of the near.
However, with the current Covid-19 pandemic – and the subsequent measures that countries around the world took – the intensity and reach of the physical fluxes that crisscross the world considerably diminished. In a reversal of historic precedent, our radii of action became centered on our country, region, neighborhood and community. If ecology literally means study of the house/environment but also study of the conditions of our existence, then this is an extraordinary opportunity to re-aim our cameras to the place we live.