- in Environment
Dan Giannopoulos explains what drew him to start photographing the discarded plastic gloves he found on the street as the coronavirus began to affect the way of life in the UK.
Like everyone else, the coronavirus pandemic has had a massive impact on life as I knew it.
As a photographer, during the beginning of the lockdown, I had thought about ways to document these surreal times from home.
After spending a number of days without leaving the confines of my house early last week I decided to go for a short walk and was surprised to see the number of discarded rubber gloves and surgical masks on the streets of my neighbourhood, a small suburb in Nottingham.
I began to photograph them in situ throughout the duration of the 30-minute walk. These disposable gloves quickly came to represent the sheer scale of the public health crisis.
The artefacts of the paranoia and panic that people are feeling under the immense pressure of this invisible killer.
These discarded gloves also represented, to me, our own virulent impact on the environment. If this small sample is anything to go by then there are hundreds of thousands of these gloves scattered across the empty public spaces of this country.
The gloves had gathered in gutters, protruded from bushes and bins, were strewn on doorsteps and forced through wire fences. I couldn’t walk more than a few metres without finding one. And over the course of the next four days I continued to go out for my permitted daily exercise and zigzagged through my neighbourhood again and again focusing each time on a different area.
Covering a radius of less than a mile, I found in excess of 300 discarded gloves and masks.
I’d produced a similar project a number of years back charting discarded drug baggies in south London. For that project I catalogued just over 400 bags during the course of three years. With this project, I found more than three-quarters of that number in four days.
Producing this body of work is an obvious continuation of some of the themes that I explored in the earlier project but in the context of a terrifying global health crisis. This small neighbourhood sample gives an indication of the unprecedented level of fear that we are all living under and the profound irony of our damaging nature.
All photographs courtesy Dan Giannopoulos