Quarantine Diary - PhMuseum

Quarantine Diary

Tamara Merino

2020

Thirty years ago, I laid on my mother's chest wrapped in her arms, like an everlasting swing. Today, after three decades, I have returned to the womb. The world today has given us a pause; a life without haste, without pressures, and without excuses. For more than hundred and forty days we were locked in a confined space. Today, the world stands still and life in this house has frozen into a hug.

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Santiago de Chile, I spent 146 days in total lockdown, together with my son and mother. During this time, I explored my own motherhood, as well as the relationship with my mother ,as we lived with limited exposure to the outdoors. My quarantine days are breastfeeding, napping, diapering, playing, loving, and repeating. Deep down, I feel that quarantine is like new motherhood— full of loneliness, isolation, unanswered questions, anxiety, reflections, and hope. I see these emotions as a neutral feeling, neither negative nor positive. They are simply new.

I have lived through two quarantines in the last year; both of them after the birth of my son, Ikal. In Latin America, many new mothers observe a 40-day quarantine period in which relatives and friends take over household chores so that the mother and her baby can bond while recovering from the birth. For some reason, I still feel like I am a puerpera, a woman who has just given birth. I think this is because the context and the emotional register of my life remains so similar. During my first quarantine, postpartum, I was full of hope. But this quarantine has brought me great anxiety for the future, for my son, and for the planet.

In 2020, residents of most districts in Santiago de Chile waited for at least 140 days in a total lockdown, in an effort to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rest of the year was spent living in partial confinement, under a series of new rules designed to restrict movement and social gatherings. Today, we are the ones who must inhabit the world in a different way.

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  • A self-portrait shows the photographer with her son Ikal at daybreak, during their first week of quarantine. Santiago, Chile. 25 March, 2020.

  • A view from the photographer’s apartment of the Cerro Manquehue, the highest hill in the Santiago Valley. Santiago, Chile. 21 May, 2020.

  • A self-portrait shows the photographer submerged in a bath, during neighborhood’s mandatory quarantine in Santiago. Santiago, Chile. 30 March, 2020.

  • The photographer’s mother exposes her stretch marks next to those of her daughter. To the pair, they are a symbol of pride, and a memory of the power they acquired while giving birth. Santiago, Chile. 10 April, 2020.

  • A view from the first floor, towards the building where the photographer spent her quarantine. The light from the apartments are visible through leafless tree branches on a winter night. Santiago, Chile. 11 July, 2020.

  • Photographer takes a self-portrait with her son, Ikal, as plants are reflected on the window. Santiago, Chile. 4 April, 2020.

  • A thirty-year- old photograph of the photographer and her mother, Tamara Bloch, during their postpartum quarantine. Santiago, Chile. 13 April, 2020.

  • The photographer's mother, Tamara Bloch, takes a shower with her grandson, Ikal, during their Santiago neighborhood’s mandatory quarantine. Bloch joined her daughter and grandson for the entirety of their isolation. Santiago, Chile. 29 March, 2020.

  • The photographer's son, Ikal crawls around the house as he discovers the world by himself. Living in quarantine, his development shows the passage of time.Santiago, Chile. 6 April, 2020.

  • The photographer takes a self-portrait as she walks barefoot in the park at night. While being in lockdown she constantly had this dream, where she was floating barefoot through the forest in a deep silence and time stood still. Santiago, Chile. 9 May, 2020.

  • A portrait of the photographer’s son Ikal, made through the lens of a toy camera he received for his first birthday. He spent the day in quarantine. Santiago, Chile. 5 July, 2020.

  • A self-portrait shows the photographer with her son Ikal, as they play under the sheets with a lamp. Santiago, Chile. 28 March, 2020.

  • Diptych made with two photographs of the photographer’s mother, Tamara Bloch, while she takes in the sun next to the window during their Santiago neighborhood’s mandatory quarantine. Bloch joined her daughter and grandson for the entirety of their isolation. Santiago, Chile. 9 May, 2020.

  • The photographer’s mother, Tamara Bloch, was isolated for 14 consecutive days after testing positive for COVID-19. To avoid physical contact, a tray of food is placed outside her bedroom. Bloch joined her daughter and grandson for the entirety of their isolation. Santiago, Chile. 16 July, 2020.

  • The photographer takes a self-portrait with her son Ikal while breastfeeding him. Her quarantine days are breastfeeding, napping, diapering, playing, loving and repeat. Deep down she feels that quarantine is like new motherhood. Santiago, Chile. 10 April, 2020.

  • The photographer comforts her son Ikal, who has been suffering from a high fever for the past three days. Meanwhile her mother, has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolated in her room. Santiago, Chile. 16 July, 2020.

  • The photographer takes a self-portrait with her mother as they wear face masks and hug each other during quarantine. Santiago, Chile. 2 May, 2020


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