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"People in the bubble": Bonn resident creates art project from the coronavirus pandemic

"People in the bubble" : Bonn resident creates art project from the coronavirus pandemic

Bonn medical doctor and photographer Kim Raaf has dealt with her anxieties during the coronavirus period artistically. In her photographs, through which she sought ways to distract herself from fear, she depicts spatial boundaries using the motif of a bubble.

The photo shows the young doctor sitting in a huge bubble with maps and travel guides. How was this created? What does it mean? For Kim Raaf, a junior doctor at the Marienhospital and photographer, the motif is symbolic of the months marked by the coronavirus pandemic and how she experienced this time.

"On the one hand, the bubble represents a visible spatial boundary – a metaphor for the experience of social distancing," says Raaf. In addition to the isolation, the doctor had another parallel in mind: "In a bubble, you can hear yourself very loudly, but you can hardly hear others." That is how many people felt during the coronavirus period – even in terms of political opinions. Using a huge plastic bubble, normally a children's toy for playing on water, and a leaf blower, Raaf set about turning her idea into reality in the spring. The result so far is a series of six photos. Raaf herself can be seen in all the photos, in scenes that connect the images with the coronavirus period. The first photo, for example, shows the doctor in action – in her gown in the hospital corridor. On another photo, the 27-year-old can be seen sitting thoughtfully on her bed. The photo is intended to convey the feeling of isolation during the lockdown period: the loneliness, and pondering a new situation. In another photo, Raaf chose cherry trees in blossom as a backdrop, as a place where crowds of people usually come together, but one that remained unusually empty this year because of coronavirus.

A picture from a supermarket is also present, which is closely linked to the early days of the crisis through debates about panic-buying. For her favourite photo, Raaf decorated the bubble with world maps, travel guides and a globe. Like many others, Raaf, who travels abroad a lot as a photographer, had to abandon her travel plans because of the coronavirus restrictions. In the final photo, you can see Raaf in the bubble in the forest, in which she is doing yoga, listening to music and holding her camera in her hands. For her, the images were ways to distract herself from fears during a crisis, to relax and be creative. For the 27-year-old, the most important thing is, of course, photography. Kim Raaf has been taking photographs since she was an adolescent, in order to artistically depict the issues that affect her. In her everyday life, she moves between the two worlds: She enjoys the weekends that she spends photographing weddings as a balance to her work at Marienhospital. For her, these two activities are very closely related: to accompany a person on an important day and to bear responsibility. This is what both professions are about, either as a doctor during an operation or a birth, or as a photographer, creating memories on the "most beautiful day of someone’s life". The soap-bubble photos are part of the exhibition "Photos and stories from everyday coronavirus life" in the Bonn Stadtmuseum.

(Original text; Hanna Fath, translation John Chandler)