Corona Rhapsody - is this real life?

Like Freddy Mercury asks in his song Bohemian Rhapsody „Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?“ i have often been con-fronted with the question of what is actually happening around me and where the border between fantasy and reality lies, since the outbreak of the global Corona pandemic. For me the situation feels like a surreal dream. In this photo essay I combine different aspects and scenarios happening during Covid-19 in Germany like in the song bohemian rhapsody different music genres are combined and open to interpret. I am interested in the tension between public life, the apparatus behind it and the people/subjects who move in this space.

Corona Rhapsody is a contribution to the discussion on the question of what changes in our society will be caused by the pandemic. The work questions how the current situation is presented by the media and perceived by the public, to what extent this corresponds to subjective experiences, how the pandemic is possibly being instrumentalized for political purposes, and how we will remember the coronavirus crisis in the future.

By using a theatrical lightning and combinging portraits with observed scenarios I play wth the notion of what is real and what a futurictic vision kight be.

The first weeks of the Project I have been working in collaboration with my colleague Helena Manhartsberger, since July 2020 I continue the project with varying assistants.

© Rafael Heygster - Soldiers on the way to an exercise at a makeshift hospital in the exhibition halls in Hannover during the first lockdown.
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Soldiers on the way to an exercise at a makeshift hospital in the exhibition halls in Hannover during the first lockdown.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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After a long period of lockdown, Jan and Undine, who were already a couple before the pandemic, spend the first warm summer day in May 2021 enjoying the fresh air in Leipzig.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Biontech employees at the Biontech plant in Marburg show how they work on the bioreactor in cleanroom suits. From April 2021 more than one billion doses of Vaccine can be produced here annually.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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In June 2020, 120 of 700 residents of a prefabricated building in northern germany are infected with corona. The city bans all residents from leaving the housing complex, imposes a quarantine and puts up fences.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Policewomen of the equestrian squad posefor a portrait during their patrol at the Maschseein Hanover, on the day when masks arecompulsory in Germany.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Despite many warnings from the authorities, countless excursionists head for the winter regions in January. Two hikers on the peak of the Brocken, the highest mountain in the Harz, a low mountain range in Germany.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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In Hannover Exhibition Halls, a makeshifthospital has been set up in March. Whereusually trade fairs take place in Hannover,treatment facilities were created for 500Covid-19 patients.Until today it still notnecessary to open the new builded infrastructure.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Conspiracy believers and right-wingers light candles from the town hall in Hanover as a sign of protest against the current measures to combat the pandemic. The pandemic has created a large number of new enemies of the state who are not clearly right-wing or left-wing, but who all represent anti-Semitic prejudices.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Ilona W. and her husband Andreas demonstrate at a „hygiene demo“ in Hanover together with right-wing extremist conspiracy believers against the measures to limit the spread of corona. Their protective masks read "muzzle".

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Due to the Lockdown Corona crisis, the season opening of the largest amusement park in Central Germany has been delayed by 2 months. On 29.5.2020 Belantis can open the gates with a new hygiene and safety concept.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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In the stadium of the football team Borussia Mönchengladbach, cardboard mates were set up as a backdrop for ghost games. Fans can upload their own photos online, these will be printed on cardboard stands and placed in the stadium. At the time of the photo, about 21,000 soccer fans have participated.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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In a rehabilitation clinic for patients whose bodies have been so severely damaged by an infection with corona virus that they suffer from post-covid syndrome, every morning, all doctors discuss further treatment. Since so little is known about the disease „Post Covid Syndrome“, there are no established rehabilitation measures and doctors have to try out different new things.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Soldier Adriana Helfen is a medical-technical laboratory assistant at the Institute for Microbiology of the German Armed Forces in Munich. She wears a protective suit with which the soldiers in the high-security laboratoryprotect themselves in direct contact withthe corona virus during their research.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Parents and children from two different families take a walk in compliance with the regulations of social distancing in Munic.

© Rafael Heygster - Since fitness studios are still closed, Max and his friend do their workout in the open air in Leipzig.
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Since fitness studios are still closed, Max and his friend do their workout in the open air in Leipzig.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Billionaire Winfried Stöcker as developed his own Covid19-Vaccine in his private laboratories, in April 2020. He injected his DIY-Vaccine himself and his family at home. Studies by independent institutes have proven that his vaccine seems to work, his family is now immune to infections with the coronavirus. When he asked Paul-Ehrlich-Institut to register his invention for clinical study, the German authorities denied his vaccine to go next steps for approlval and accused him of a crime, because during the development phase, he did not comply with official medical protocols.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Jakob B., a schoolboy, learns on his Macbook from home during the corona pandemic. Puppy Bob keeps him company. He and his father acquired the dog during the lockdown.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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One of about 400 German vaccination centres was set up in the Festhalle in Frankfurt. Before the pandemic, parties and dances were held in this hall. Staff at the empty vaccination centre chat before taking their lunch break.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Milena W. is a medical laboratory employee and is studying medicine on the side. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has been taking swabs for PCR tests in the containers of the Bioscentia company, which are then analysed in the laboratory and tested for corona and possible mutations.

© Rafael Heygster - Image from the Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? photography project
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Roger P. suffers from Post Covid Syndrom. He used to be a carpenter and he worked in a centre for disabled people as a group leader. He always disinfected his hands, wore a mask, made sure that the residents did the same. Nevertheless, he became infected with Corona. Since his recovery, he has been suffering from different symptoms: chest pain, shortness of breath, anxiety. To recover, he goes to a rehabilitation clinic for Long Covid patients. His condition improves only slowly.

Corona Rhapsody - is this real life? by Rafael Heygster

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