Visual Essay, 2020
This photo series, titled Please, Stop. is a compilation of images that represent the current ethos of the global pandemic - obliging humanity to pause normalcy. The series includes images I have accumulated from regional historical archives in addition to self-produced photographs. These images depict various scenes that encompass my life in my hometown, Bahrain, both literally (as in the images of streets that lead to my home), and figuratively (as in the archival image of a family visiting Jasra Beach). The roadside stop sign is the common medium that awkwardly interjects each frame, urging viewers to challenge the otherwise mundane quality of these photos. The intended effect of such is to propel viewers to reflect upon what it is that we are stopping to do during this time of quarantine.
“Please, Stop” is a guideline that appeals to one’s sense of humanity, the phrase implies a sense of social responsibility for order and organization to manifest. However, in a contemporary global culture built on the ever-present drive of capitalism, the act of halting normalcy has its complications. The structure of the metal traffic barrier with the word “STOP” in English and Arabic, is both flimsy and outdated, in addition to being non-functional nor rational in each backdrop. As a consequence, the seriality of the signage evokes the aura of ‘the imaginary’ that disorients a viewer from the present moment.
With order breaking down during the pandemic period, societies are restructuring and adapting to ‘the new norm’. In line with these developments, these photographs ultimately serve as question marks rather than full stops. What does “STOP” mean for our mannerisms of interaction and achievement? How finite is “stopping” and what causes the world to functionally “stop”?