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Collecting 12 Images That Could Have Told Us 2020 Was Coming

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

( Barriers to Contact, Pasadena, California, USA, 2014 )

Thankfully, in spite of this being a year where so many of us had to slam hard on the brakes of so many things we enjoy, we have also been pushed inside and given the chance to take a long, hard look at the resources we already had in our immediate reach that we were just too distracted to appreciate or to examine in much detail. In my case, this period coincided with a grant application from Finland's national arts council, which issued a call for artistic projects that could be carried out under the compromised restrictions of the pandemic, most notably for artists whose plans for the year were heavily affected by it.

As I was facing the shutdown of the two public venues in which I'd been discussing exhibiting photographs in the United States during autumn, I figured my situation made me a reasonable fit for the grant. I then submitted an application for funding that has grown into a calendar for the year 2021 that explores the peculiarity and impact of the landmark year of 2020. It is designed to capture the proceedings of the year via photographs from the past that speak to 2020's most notable trends in society.

Rolling through photographs of prior months and years is an activity which can often deliver a thrill, given how much past moments of work, socializing, dining and travel always look and feel different when viewed through the lens of your current circumstances.

The drastic downturn of public life and allowable activity made the screen-based nature of this project a welcome distraction from the surges of uncertainty and rollercoaster experience of a global health crisis, given that this period was also the least inclined I've ever been to photograph my surroundings in 19 years of carrying a digital camera.

Within the context of this trip through several hundred thousand sights of the last decade and a half, one category that stood out especially were the activities of public life that I have not seen these last 10 months.

( View of a Concert Audience, Pasadena, California, 2017 )

( Multi-Stage Concert Passageway, Helsinki, Finland, 2015 )

As such, given that many of us experienced January and February with the lives we once knew (before witnessing the implementation of the regulations on public events that we've seen since), the first two months 0f the calendar are a reflection of those former circumstances.

( View of a Congregation, Helsinki, Finland, 2008 )

The others speak to themes that appear to resemble moments of this year that they resemble a preview of the societal shifts that have made this year especially remarkable.

( Temporarily out of Service, L'viv, Ukraine, 2018 )

(Restriction, Keila, Estonia, 2011)

While several of the photographs are plainly religiously themed with regard to their imagery, they did not stand out due to any tenet of Christian teaching, but rather for how the imagery spoke to the often repeated 2020 theme of sudden confrontation with many institutions that we'd taken for granted as being a societal constants suddenly becoming inaccessible (and in many places, facing so much opposition as to cause pushback on national governments on a local and even national scale).

Having heard for years that the fabric that enables our way of life to persist is really very delicate, certain points of 2020 represented the first time that many of us ever actually felt it. The lines became blurred between what could be called behaving to take the initiative to preserve our way of life and purposely disrupting our chances of survival,

( View of a Lakeside, Valencia, California, USA, 2006 )

with each assertive option holding its own claim to necessity, health and even legality, and every individual choice reinforced by its own echo chamber of both mainstream and social media.

( Taking it to the Streets, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 2015 )

While so many matters of the pandemic remain pending as the year draws to a close, the

project that this calendar has become aims to frame 2020 as a spark for an era that we may find quite unrecognizable just as likely as it could be a bump in the road that will stand out for its off-the-wall nature.

My thanks go out to Arts Promotion Centre Finland for its compensation for the time it has taken to compile the work included within it, as well as for the funding to cover its current online promotion. Further thanks in advance to those reading this who may choose to support a small business by making the calendar or one of its accompanying collection of decorative prints a gift for a loved one this holiday season. Save a trip to

a potentially crowded shopping mall by clicking below:

(To provide a premium for anyone who opts in for direct mailbox delivery of the Falcon Fine Art Calendar 2021, this blog entry has deliberately published just a handful of the 12 selections of the calendar - feel free to see a few more in the Falcon Fine Art Print Store by clicking above)

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