the bigger picture

Adjusting to Life at Home

“Self-portrait in my kitchen while my self-Quarantine in Moscow, Russia. The only sunlight shining in my flat is a reflection of a neighboring building in the evening.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos

In early March, documentary photographer Nanna Heitmann arrived back in Moscow from a trip to Germany. Since she had flown through Hungary, a country missing from the list of COVID-19 risk locations, no one at the airport instructed her to self-quarantine. However, given what she knew and the fact that she was nursing a cold, Heitmann took it upon herself to do so.

Days that once consisted of morning yoga, doing some computer work from a coffee shop, traveling for assignments or personal projects, visiting friends, and going on walks with her partner turned long and bleak.

“[Quarantine] hit me really hard,” she said. “All other people were still allowed to move as usual, while I was at home and sick because I didn’t cure my cold for a long time.” Given the low energy levels her cold caused, she started watching local television, sleeping long hours, and reading extensively about the coronavirus. She could feel depression begin to creep in. “I deleted all social networks for some days,” she said. “I [started to] only read the news once a day and immediately started to feel better.”

When the two weeks were up, she stepped outside to find a different city.

One of the busiest and largest metro systems in the world was suddenly eerily empty. Facial masks had become the newest accessory, and the supermarket shelves typically filled with toilet paper, buckwheat, and noodles were empty. “Fear had arrived.”

Now, nearly a month after Heitmann began isolating, Moscow is on citywide lockdown. Heitmann is once again stuck inside, with her boyfriend. Grocery shopping, running to the pharmacy, and walking your dog within a 100 meter radius of your home are the only approved reasons to leave. Despite everything, Heitmann is finding it easier to focus on the positives this time around by rediscovering her childish creativity and curiosity, cooking healthy meals, and working on checking things off of her long-standing to-do list.

“I see this little diary as a kind of personal observation [of] how the world around me changes,” she said. “I find myself in the book 1984 while I am stuck in this little bubble called home.”

Scroll below to see the photographs Heitmann captured during her initial quarantine.

“I was sleeping a lot during my quarantine, so we moved to the floor. Our backs [have felt] better since.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“Metro Station Kiyevskaya. After the end of my quarantine I took a look into the subway system. In two weeks so much changed. The metro was eerie empty, many people started to wear masks.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
Metro Station Kiyevskaya. Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
Metro Station Kiyevskaya Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“View from my window. The weather changes all the time. One moment it is warm and sunny, a few minutes later it starts snowing.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“View from my window.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“My boyfriend, who is from Siberia, runs happy outside to enjoy the snow. I watch him from above.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“The city set up 105.000 cameras last year, equipped for facial recognition, stating the network ‘ensures safety’. I wonder if the cameras also track my face and notice that I left my flat. Just on the boulevard in front of my flat I found more than 40 video cameras surveilling public life. I’m sure I didn’t find all of them…The street is only around 300m long.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“A lot of programs in Russian TV make fun of foreign politicians, such as Trump who’s hands nobody wants to shake.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“Usually I never watch the TV but I decided to follow the Russian news while my time in quarantine and collect different moments of the coverage of Corona.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“Corona coverage was mainly about other countries such as Italy on this picture.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
“The news predict that the world ‘will never be as we have known it’ and that the economy will suffer heavily.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
Photo: Nanna Heitmann/ MAGNUM PHOTOS
“The TV covered and silent in my flat. I started to watch Russian TV which I usually never do. I was curious how the Russian state TV reports about the virus. It is always a surprises me how they report about current events with their flexible relationship to reality.” Photo: Nanna Heitmann / Magnum Photos
Adjusting to Life at Home