An artist’s productivity during lockdown.

In everyday life, apart from professional meetings and photoshoots, I mainly work from home and I often can stay there for days.
Thus, at first, I thought that the lockdown wasn’t going to change much in my life.
I quickly understood that I was wrong.
It wasn’t like the everyday life I knew.
In reality, I didn’t know from what angle to look at it and how I was going to live it.

As I’m writing these lines, I‘m living my third week of lockdown and I must say that my creativity is particularly surprising me. I had the idea of ​​two photographs for my current series which I very quickly produced, then I had the idea of another photograph for another series (which I talk about in a paragraph below). I also have drawn some sketches of photographs that I would like to make (but I’m not sure if I can make them where I am).
Before lockdown, I tried to produce at least one image per month. It’s not always easy because I don’t always have ideas and also because I have a lot of things to do beside. And then the lockdown started and it happened : in just a few days, my brain started to produce. Naturally, without forcing, without the feeling of being under pressure.

As part of a series, I’ve taken photographs every day for an year and a half (You can find more about the artistic statement here) but since then, I’ve been unable to do the same. Now I know that my photographs must be done without pressure. Trust me, I’ve already tried many times to force myself to produce, to settle down in front of a notebook but nothing came. Or at least, nothing that was really compelling for me.This is why I feared that this lockdown and what it meant -this impossibility of going to see the outside world and being inspired by it -was going to slow me down. I’m not someone who takes out her camera every day, I don’t take sponteanous shot (except with my cheap phone) and therefore it can take me time to create photographs.

Coincidence or not, at the beginning of the lockdown I was reading “Girl with a Pearl Earring” the famous book written by Tracy Chevalier.
I think my production became rather important thanks to two factors : the first one was this book. I had never read it before, I loved it and I easily imaged it in my head. It really inspired me. And the second factor is…the lockdown itself. As if being unable to do certain things made me refocus on others. Maybe I could have taken these photographs at another time, but I think that being stuck in one place also helped me consider what I could do there.

I often want to leave and isolate myself somewhere, in France or anywhere else, to see what impact it would have on my creativity. Would I continue a series ? Would I create another one ? Would it be totally different from what I usually do ? Or would this situation be too hard for me, and I’d do nothing ? Although I’m confined to a place that I know very well, I’ve the feeling of being cut off from the outside world. Even if I am - like billions of other people-aware of a multitude of information given by the media, I have the impression that the windows and the walls became borders. I don’t really know what’s going on in the streets, in the city. I can only imagine it and observe the effect it can have on me.

One of my current series deals with my sleepless nights. A few years ago, I realized that they were due to scary stories I created in my mind, from the least detail of my life. Even if I didn’t (and still don’t) want them to be created.
I quickly understood that this lockdown would feed my anxieties and therefore my work. I felt, and I still feel various feelings : isolation, weariness, automatism, loss of reference points, and even the impression of going crazy…However I know that I shouldn’t complain: I have a roof above my head and I’m not one of the people who risk their lives every day to save the others live (If you’re reeding this and you’re one of them : a huuuge thanks you !!!). Nevertheless, I have found that these feelings evolve, sometimes replace each other, accumulate and, in a way, I fear them. I must say that, from the very beginning of the lockdown, a voice in my head (in the evening before going to bed and/or in the morning while I was staring at the ceiling) made me wonder how I was going to keep from going crazy. And that’s how I came to create this triptych :

Pauline Le Pichon, Nuits Blanches, 2020

While looking at people in the street, I also got caught up in the guessing game. In my work as an artist, I like to deal with the notion of (deceptive) appearances. And there - almost like in the “Rear Window” movie (or as a bored grandmother ha ha) - with the elements I saw, I started to imagine why some people were outside, creating then a whole narrative. Maybe I was wrong, maybe I was right. I’ll never know.

In fact, I realized that the lockdown could be beneficial to my production.
It’s a driving force, a source of inspiration, useful time, sensations and scenery that became a support for my work. I still don’t know exactly how long this period will last, and I also don’t know if my creativity will follow. But I like to see that this crisis has a few positive effects : I’ve seen many artists, more or less famous, produce and this proves that we can adapt ourselves, re-discover ourselves, question ourselves and thus obtain good things from it. I’m not going to lie : I’m still looking forward to see again my loved ones, to get back to my life “before the lockdown” but in the meantime, my production helps me to hold on.

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Pauline Le Pichon

Pauline Le Pichon

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I’m a French visuel artist, freelance photographer, instructor and writer.