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Emergency Food Package

The first year of the COVID pandemic was a drastic restructuring of the way we normally live. At the time, I was incredibly aware of how extraordinary those first few months of the COVID pandemic were, especially as someone clinically vulnerable (or shielding) from COVID. I was instructed by the government and the NHS to stay indoors until further notice and I remember feeling a sense of relief at that official instruction, because each journey out up until then had felt quite dangerous.

The government announced that they would send out food boxes to people who were shielding and without access to online supermarket deliveries. When I first began photographing every item in the food package that arrived weekly, I simply wanted to have a record of every item in one box. I felt compelled to do this, as I wanted a record of this unprecedented moment in our recent history. I was also curious about how items had been chosen by companies that were contracted by the government, and how a judgement had been made on what essentials someone would need in the emergency situation in which shielders found themselves. It was important for me to have each item placed in the same spot on my dining table. I wanted there to be a hint of a domestic setting to show how a decision made somewhere centrally then arrived into my home and space.

The title of the series Emergency Food Package (2021) and the individual titles of each print (e.g., Tinned Meat, Cooking Sauce, Pasta, Fresh Fruit I (Oranges)) were lifted from the letter that accompanied each box. It would list what each package should generally contain, but each week there were slight variations. Sometimes the fresh fruit might be different, or the tinned meat might be meatballs or hotdogs. As an artist, a lot of my practice is about making small observations, and reframing them for others to look at and consider. Shielders felt rather ignored and forgotten as the pandemic went on. When I looked at the images again, and life was slowly getting back to normal for many, I thought it was important to share them this way for the audience to come to their own conclusions about this brief act of care.

Elora Kadir

 

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