Morning Song - PhMuseum

Morning Song

Sarah Pabst

2020

On March 20, Argentina entered a full lockdown which we expected to end quickly but instead lasted for several months − much longer than we thought. We were only allowed to go outside for groceries, urgent matters, and essential work. I had to explain to my 2 1⁄2-year-old daughter that she wasn’t allowed to play outside anymore, that kindergarten was closed, and we couldn’t visit other people. Borders closed, flights from my family in Germany to visit us got cancelled, and from one day to the next, our world had completely changed.

I felt as if I were drowning in chaos − our routine, our place, everything was out of order. We were struggling with our everyday life. I felt trapped, like a caged animal in a megacity. From the terrace I looked at the treetops in front of our building and felt the desperate need to connect with nature. Growing up in rural Germany, nature and animals had al- ways been a very important part of my life and I wanted my daughter to live the same way. When moving to Buenos Aires, I made a compromise with myself to feed that need through frequent travels and escapes to the countryside. All that suddenly stopped.

After a month, I found out I was pregnant. A sudden silence occupied the chaos. It was like, after spinning in high speed, the world had pushed pause. During full quarantine, after several days of heavy emotions, my body decided to end the pregnancy before it even had really begun. What followed was a profound sadness and guilt: I felt betrayed by my own body and at the same time, guilty about my sadness, for it had been “nothing“ so far. For a brief moment, I was a soon-to-be mother of two. And what struck me most − I knew all along before having any evidence in my hand. I began to be aware of the connection again, of my mind and body, of my instincts, my female intuition.

In order to fight against an overwhelming feeling of paralysis, I picked up the camera and began documenting what was around me. My daughter, my partner, myself, and what I missed so much − nature, little moments outside, forbidden walks to a nearby lagoon where I encountered a magical world. Nature had regained space, the lake lay crystal clear in the middle of Buenos Aires, teeming with birds and fish. I started to feel my part in a greater ecosystem, as a mother and as a woman, analyzing this connection with our inner animal.

Technically, by nature, humans don’t undergo metamorphosis, but this quarantine somehow felt as if we do. Only the outcome is still unclear.

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  • A man is seen through the treetops from the small park in front of our building in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 15, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. We started to occupy the building’s terrace to get some air and so that my daughter could run a bit.

  • My daughter Elena sits on my lap in our sleeping room and stretches her hand out towards the sun in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 29, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. The day I took this picture I noticed that I would loose my early pregnancy.

  • I comfort my daughter after a meltdown she had because she wasn’t allowed to go to the playground in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 2, 2020. On March 20 Argentina entered a full lockdown and we were suddenly locked in our apartment.

  • A pomegranate is cut in half in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 4, 2020. Pomegranates are ancient symbols of fertility, frequently used in paintings.

  • A video of phosphorescent plancton is projected on my body few days after the pregnancy loss in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 13, 2020. The loss was one of my biggest challenge during the full quarantine Argentina entered on March 20 for 4 months.

  • A dead fish is washed onto the shore in an artificial lagoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 28, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. The lagoon became our small piece of paradise, the only contact to nature in a mega city during lockdown. When people started coming back, also rubbish and dead animals showed up again.

  • Sun on my daughter’s neck in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 13, 2020. Argentina entered full quarantine on March 20 that endured 4 months. I suddenly felt so vulnerable, deeply concerned about my daughter’s emotional wellbeing.

  • A bird lands on a tree in an artificial lagoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 16, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. The lagoon became our small piece of paradise, the only contact to nature in a mega city during lockdown.

  • I embrace my husband on July 30, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our bond has been fortified by the many proofs life has had for us and still might have. Few days before we board the plane to Germany we drift between joy and nostalgic feelings. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months.

  • I hold a blood stained tissue after a very early pregnancy loss in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 3, 2020. After a week of heavy emotions during full lockdown, my body ended the pregnancy before it had really begun.

  • My daughter and I sit on our bed while she holds a pomegranate in her hands in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 3, 2020. It always amazed me that when I was pregnant with her, the embryo already has all the ovules she’ll have in her entire life. That way, somehow we already carry our possible grandchildren.

  • Heavy rain falls on Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 27, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months.

  • My daughter stands in my father in law’s garden in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 11, 2020. During lockdown she has grown a lot, turning into a kid that frequently demands to go to the nearby lagoon to watch the fish.

  • Palm trees are seen in the artificial lagoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 8, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. The lagoon became our small piece of paradise, the only contact to nature in a mega city during lockdown.

  • Left: Self portrait with a braid shortly after my early pregnancy loss in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 10, 2020. Magenta in mediation is one of the strongest energies you can feel. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months.

    Right: Plants and trees in my father in law’s garden in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 11, 2020. The garden was one of the few places we could visit from time to time during quarantine and have our daughter play outside.

  • Self-portrait with a veil in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 22, 2020. After the pregnancy loss and due to the isolation I sometimes just felt the need to hide myself.

  • left: A goose swims in an artificial lagoon in Buenos Aires, Argentina on July 7, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. The lagoon became our small piece of paradise, the only contact to nature in a mega city during lockdown.
    right: Self-portrait with what I miss after an early pregnancy loss in Buenos Aires, Argentina on May 25, 2020. I noticed that on baroque paintings mothers are frequently pictured with one bare side.

  • My daughter has trouble sleeping in Buenos Aires, Argentina on April 24, 2020. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. After a month, I got worried about my daughter’s sleeping issues and took her for forbidden walks to the nearby park and lagoon.

  • My daughter reaches for a branch in the lake in the middle of the city on May 23, 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Abundance of fishes, birds and nutrias, crystal clear water and abundant plants are the blooming result of the human absence. Argentina entered a full lockdown on March 20 that endured more than four months. After a month, I got worried about my daughter’s sleeping issues and took her for forbidden walks to the nearby park and lagoon.

  • My daughter grabs my husband’s shoulder in our sleeping room in Buenos Aires, Argentina on June 2, 2020. Lockdown has brought us closer together, a sudden break in our everyday rushing life.


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