Julia Katharina Keil

Becoming in Isolation

Becoming in Isolation 


I started this series of self-portraits at the start of the lockdown in Paris due to the current  COVID-19 pandemic. I wanted to explore this surreal world I suddenly found myself in, which wavered between fact and fiction. I gathered inspiration from the present and the past, from paintings, photographs, cinema, fashion, social media & the daily news as well as observations from my everyday. Each photo has taken me on a journey of exploration & becoming and has provided not only a structure and a playground to my days in lockdown but a way to connect with those on the other side. This is a currently ongoing project as Paris is due to remain in lockdown till the 11th May 2020. 


 This project was recently featured on the BBC



 Girl with an egg earring 

Inspired by: Girl with a pearl earring - Johannes Vermeer


 Girl with an egg earring 

Inspired by: Girl with a pearl earring - Johannes Vermeer


Pandora’s Package

On this day all non-essential orders from amazon had been suspended in France for this lockdown period to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. This portrait was both inspired by this news but also by the greek myth of Pandora who gave into her curiosity and released disease, death and misery upon the world from a mysterious box bestowed upon her by Zues. She hastened to close the box but realised there was something left inside which felt different. As she opened the box once more, the last thing fluttered out, full of light and spirit, spreading a sense of calm over the previous panic and pain. This light was hope. And hope is a gift we humans have flowing through our collective veins, urging us to keep going while filling us with a knowing that this too, shall pass.


Pandora’s Package

On this day all non-essential orders from amazon had been suspended in France for this lockdown period to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. This portrait was both inspired by this news but also by the greek myth of Pandora who gave into her curiosity and released disease, death and misery upon the world from a mysterious box bestowed upon her by Zues. She hastened to close the box but realised there was something left inside which felt different. As she opened the box once more, the last thing fluttered out, full of light and spirit, spreading a sense of calm over the previous panic and pain. This light was hope. And hope is a gift we humans have flowing through our collective veins, urging us to keep going while filling us with a knowing that this too, shall pass.


Paris 2020

Inspired by: The character of Pris in the movie Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott. Nowadays thoughts of the future are constant and filled with uncertainty. This film set in the future of 2019, in many ways evaluates the meaning of being human set in a watchful world, something which resonated with me in our current state of reevaluating our ways of living and data collection.


Paris 2020

Inspired by: The character of Pris in the movie Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott. Nowadays thoughts of the future are constant and filled with uncertainty. This film set in the future of 2019, in many ways evaluates the meaning of being human set in a watchful world, something which resonated with me in our current state of reevaluating our ways of living and data collection.


Real Fiction

Inspired by: Pulp fiction directed by Quentin Tarantino. I wanted to recreate this iconic movie poster with objects representative of today. I titled it Real Fiction due to the many surreal, tragic and at times sensational stories that keep flooding through our feeds.

Real Fiction

Inspired by: Pulp fiction directed by Quentin Tarantino. I wanted to recreate this iconic movie poster with objects representative of today. I titled it Real Fiction due to the many surreal, tragic and at times sensational stories that keep flooding through our feeds.

When the rose is faded 

Inspired by: The Soul of the Rose - Waterhouse.This was the first image from the series sparked by my desire to be out smelling newly sprung spring flowers yet all I had was a dried rose.

When the rose is faded 

Inspired by: The Soul of the Rose - Waterhouse.This was the first image from the series sparked by my desire to be out smelling newly sprung spring flowers yet all I had was a dried rose.

Contained & Connected 

Inspired by: Lady Lilith by Dante Rossetti Pre-Raphaelites. Originally I thought of just recreating this painting and waited for the precise moment that the evening light turned golden. However as I took the image, rather than holding a mirror as Lady Lilith does, I grabbed my phone, the modern day mirror, a sign of self reflection and communication allowing us to stay connected in isolation.


Contained & Connected 

Inspired by: Lady Lilith by Dante Rossetti Pre-Raphaelites. Originally I thought of just recreating this painting and waited for the precise moment that the evening light turned golden. However as I took the image, rather than holding a mirror as Lady Lilith does, I grabbed my phone, the modern day mirror, a sign of self reflection and communication allowing us to stay connected in isolation.


Blue 

Inspired by: Femme aux Bras Croisés -Pablo Picasso.Some days are blue. Picasso’s blue period stemmed from his fall into depression. The subject who could be an inmate of the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris, carries a blank expression of someone who has been through much suffering and has fallen under a deep and dark spell. This blank stare, isolated state and love for the colour blue, was something which intrigued me and I thought many could relate to during this challenging time.

Blue 

Inspired by: Femme aux Bras Croisés -Pablo Picasso.Some days are blue. Picasso’s blue period stemmed from his fall into depression. The subject who could be an inmate of the Saint-Lazare hospital-prison in Paris, carries a blank expression of someone who has been through much suffering and has fallen under a deep and dark spell. This blank stare, isolated state and love for the colour blue, was something which intrigued me and I thought many could relate to during this challenging time.

The birthday party 

Inspired by the painting 'Decadent young woman, after the dance' by Ramon Casas.  I had the (hopefully) once in a lifetime opportunity to have my birthday during lockdown. I normally celebrate my birthday on a small scale anyway but celebrating in confinement was quite a different experience, one which I wanted to share with all those who were in the same boat to perhaps find a little joy at the absurdity of the situation.


The birthday party 

Inspired by the painting 'Decadent young woman, after the dance' by Ramon Casas.  I had the (hopefully) once in a lifetime opportunity to have my birthday during lockdown. I normally celebrate my birthday on a small scale anyway but celebrating in confinement was quite a different experience, one which I wanted to share with all those who were in the same boat to perhaps find a little joy at the absurdity of the situation.


Touch 

I wanted to explore the symbolism of touch in the current climate with the many warnings of not touching ones face and keeping a minimum of 2 meters of distance from others. This portrait required a very hands on approach in which I decided to take the image from the screen to print and experimented with cyanotype printing.

Touch 

I wanted to explore the symbolism of touch in the current climate with the many warnings of not touching ones face and keeping a minimum of 2 meters of distance from others. This portrait required a very hands on approach in which I decided to take the image from the screen to print and experimented with cyanotype printing.

The Day the Sun brought Disco 

 Inspired by: Disco 1970’s fashion photography /my broken disco ball.

The Day the Sun brought Disco 

 Inspired by: Disco 1970’s fashion photography /my broken disco ball.

For those that hold the light

The World Health Organisation has designated 2020 to be the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honour of the 200th anniversary of the woman who founded modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. In her time she managed to raise the then low-status of nurses through enforcing education, improved hygiene in hospitals and wrote numerous books on the topic.Depicted in numerous paintings often with a lamp in hand, she was called “The Lady with the Lamp” due to the rounds she would make checking on soldiers during the Crimean War. This light has since become a symbol of compassion and care. It’s the light I see today, daily radiating through stories and pictures from our world of all those brave souls in the health care industry risking their lives to stay by the sides of those who need it most. It’s the light I hear every evening echo through the streets as people come to their windows and cheer in support of those heros. It’s the light I feel when I think about how innately connected we all are and how bravely we fight for the life we are given.This image is to honour and give thanks to all those humble heros fighting to keep this light burning bright, for showing remarkable strength, soul and so much compassion.

For those that hold the light

The World Health Organisation has designated 2020 to be the “Year of the Nurse and Midwife” in honour of the 200th anniversary of the woman who founded modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. In her time she managed to raise the then low-status of nurses through enforcing education, improved hygiene in hospitals and wrote numerous books on the topic.Depicted in numerous paintings often with a lamp in hand, she was called “The Lady with the Lamp” due to the rounds she would make checking on soldiers during the Crimean War. This light has since become a symbol of compassion and care. It’s the light I see today, daily radiating through stories and pictures from our world of all those brave souls in the health care industry risking their lives to stay by the sides of those who need it most. It’s the light I hear every evening echo through the streets as people come to their windows and cheer in support of those heros. It’s the light I feel when I think about how innately connected we all are and how bravely we fight for the life we are given.This image is to honour and give thanks to all those humble heros fighting to keep this light burning bright, for showing remarkable strength, soul and so much compassion.

# My Kitchen

Since the lockdown began, there has been a surge in people spending more time in their kitchens, cooking and baking and often sharing their creations on social media. I myself have spent more time than usual following new recipes shared online and have found it to bring not just sustenance but also a focus which provides me with a feeling of temporary productivity and joy (even if the outcome is not always that enjoyable.) With this in mind, for this portrait I was inspired by advertisement and publications from the 1950’s for the home featuring pastels and women immaculately put together. As interesting as I found these from a visual perspective, I was appalled by the amount of sexism and inferior portrayal of women present in advertisements not just in the 50’s but in the decades that followed too. Although I know this unfortunately is still present in today’s society, I do believe we’ve come a long way since then which leads me to believe that we can change and heal our ways for the better. We can treat others as fellow humans rather than their sex,colour,religion, job or social standing. But as with overcoming any great difficulties, it will take time, courage and a unified togetherness to get there. 

# My Kitchen

Since the lockdown began, there has been a surge in people spending more time in their kitchens, cooking and baking and often sharing their creations on social media. I myself have spent more time than usual following new recipes shared online and have found it to bring not just sustenance but also a focus which provides me with a feeling of temporary productivity and joy (even if the outcome is not always that enjoyable.) With this in mind, for this portrait I was inspired by advertisement and publications from the 1950’s for the home featuring pastels and women immaculately put together. As interesting as I found these from a visual perspective, I was appalled by the amount of sexism and inferior portrayal of women present in advertisements not just in the 50’s but in the decades that followed too. Although I know this unfortunately is still present in today’s society, I do believe we’ve come a long way since then which leads me to believe that we can change and heal our ways for the better. We can treat others as fellow humans rather than their sex,colour,religion, job or social standing. But as with overcoming any great difficulties, it will take time, courage and a unified togetherness to get there. 

Only Stories Left Alive 

Inspired by: Only Lovers Left Alive directed by Jim Jarmusch. I watched this vampire film the night before taking the photo and felt it too reflected the current climate with few going out to be in daylight and being in states of isolation like the character of Adam. I recreated the opening scene and surrounded myself with books of fiction and dreams, to comment on the surreal, dream-like world I sometimes feel like I and others must be in.

Only Stories Left Alive 

Inspired by: Only Lovers Left Alive directed by Jim Jarmusch. I watched this vampire film the night before taking the photo and felt it too reflected the current climate with few going out to be in daylight and being in states of isolation like the character of Adam. I recreated the opening scene and surrounded myself with books of fiction and dreams, to comment on the surreal, dream-like world I sometimes feel like I and others must be in.

Paris est une fête 

 Inspired by: A moveable Feast- Ernest Hemingway. I had been wandering through the Paris streets beyond my window through the words of Hemingway. Some days are overcome by fatigue and a mind filled with noise accompanied by a longing for inner silence and air.


Paris est une fête 

 Inspired by: A moveable Feast- Ernest Hemingway. I had been wandering through the Paris streets beyond my window through the words of Hemingway. Some days are overcome by fatigue and a mind filled with noise accompanied by a longing for inner silence and air.


Privacy 

 Inspired by: The character Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson. The characters secrecy and need for privacy which she often found in the bathroom is something which many can relate to during these times of families, partners and roommates finding themselves confined together, sometimes with very little space or time of their own.

Privacy 

 Inspired by: The character Margot in The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson. The characters secrecy and need for privacy which she often found in the bathroom is something which many can relate to during these times of families, partners and roommates finding themselves confined together, sometimes with very little space or time of their own.

Mask is the new black

Nowadays we see masks everywhere. On the front pages of the news, on the street, shopping for essentials and on sites like amazon they sell-out like hot cakes. Everyone wants them and a lot of us, especially those in the healthcare industry, need them. In many countries, they are not only encouraged, but mandatory.
Due to this current pandemic, masks have become a new norm, a norm which probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and may very well become the “must-have accessory” for now and the future.
I was interested in how fashion brands, also financially impacted by loss of sales during the pandemic were handling this situation. Many brands have turned to producing masks to stay afloat and people are encouraged to craft their own. To see these masks as a fashion accessory of course conjures up a sense of discomfort as it’s much more than that and has become a symbol laced with the frightening truth of our new reality.
I decided to explore these thoughts and observations by creating my own version of Helmut Newton’s iconic “Le Smoking “ photo taken for French Vogue on the streets of Paris in 1975, this time though with the new black of 2020. 

Mask is the new black

Nowadays we see masks everywhere. On the front pages of the news, on the street, shopping for essentials and on sites like amazon they sell-out like hot cakes. Everyone wants them and a lot of us, especially those in the healthcare industry, need them. In many countries, they are not only encouraged, but mandatory.
Due to this current pandemic, masks have become a new norm, a norm which probably won’t be going anywhere anytime soon and may very well become the “must-have accessory” for now and the future.
I was interested in how fashion brands, also financially impacted by loss of sales during the pandemic were handling this situation. Many brands have turned to producing masks to stay afloat and people are encouraged to craft their own. To see these masks as a fashion accessory of course conjures up a sense of discomfort as it’s much more than that and has become a symbol laced with the frightening truth of our new reality.
I decided to explore these thoughts and observations by creating my own version of Helmut Newton’s iconic “Le Smoking “ photo taken for French Vogue on the streets of Paris in 1975, this time though with the new black of 2020. 

Let’s get physical 

With parks & gyms closed & running banned in the day time in Paris, a lot of us are turning to workout videos or classes online to feel the burn. I for one decided to venture to the 80’s for the day with some of the original home workout videos by the marvellous Jane Fonda accompanied by a bit of Olivia Newton-John ringing in my ears.

Needless to say, Jane Fonda does it better. Way better. 

Let’s get physical 

With parks & gyms closed & running banned in the day time in Paris, a lot of us are turning to workout videos or classes online to feel the burn. I for one decided to venture to the 80’s for the day with some of the original home workout videos by the marvellous Jane Fonda accompanied by a bit of Olivia Newton-John ringing in my ears.

Needless to say, Jane Fonda does it better. Way better. 

Easter Monday
Inspired by: Photography by Cecil Beaton


Easter Monday
Inspired by: Photography by Cecil Beaton


FaceTime

Inspired by Meryl Streep portrait by Annie Leibovitz.I wanted to do my own version of this wonderful portrait of Meryl Streep but with items which I use on a regular basis such as a clay face mask. The out of focus toothbrush and toothpaste in the foreground are a hint at the lens being a bathroom mirror and the viewers being my reflection. 

FaceTime

Inspired by Meryl Streep portrait by Annie Leibovitz.I wanted to do my own version of this wonderful portrait of Meryl Streep but with items which I use on a regular basis such as a clay face mask. The out of focus toothbrush and toothpaste in the foreground are a hint at the lens being a bathroom mirror and the viewers being my reflection. 

All dressed up with nowhere to go 

 Inspired by: Girl sipping Champagne -Atelier Manasse 1920s/1930s glamour photo. 

All dressed up with nowhere to go 

 Inspired by: Girl sipping Champagne -Atelier Manasse 1920s/1930s glamour photo. 

As Atlas holds up the sky, we must carry the weight of the world. 

This day was the 50th anniversary of Earth day but as the Earth day network rightly states, it’s not a day, it’s a movement. And it’s a movement which is screaming for our care & attention.

“The coronavirus pandemic does not shut us down. Instead, it reminds us of what’s at stake in our fight for the planet. If we don’t demand change to transform our planet and meet our climate crisis, our current state will become the new normal — a world where pandemics and extreme weather events span the globe, leaving already marginalized and vulnerable communities even more at risk. “ 

As Atlas holds up the sky, we must carry the weight of the world. 

This day was the 50th anniversary of Earth day but as the Earth day network rightly states, it’s not a day, it’s a movement. And it’s a movement which is screaming for our care & attention.

“The coronavirus pandemic does not shut us down. Instead, it reminds us of what’s at stake in our fight for the planet. If we don’t demand change to transform our planet and meet our climate crisis, our current state will become the new normal — a world where pandemics and extreme weather events span the globe, leaving already marginalized and vulnerable communities even more at risk. “ 

Untitled 

 Inspired by: ‘Betty’ & other portrait paintings by Gerhard Richter.

Untitled 

 Inspired by: ‘Betty’ & other portrait paintings by Gerhard Richter.

Silent Spring 

Inspired by: 'Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson & the hypnotising dancing of Loie Fuller. These mornings I wake up not to the honking of horns and loud chatter rising up into my bedroom window, but to the sound of birds momentarily taking pause to sing their song to those willing to listen. It has been a sound of spring bringing comfort to my days in lockdown. A call connecting us all over the globe even through these times of tragedy. Even through suffering, nature continues and in many ways, it’s been thriving thanks to our recent decrease in intervention of the natural order.

With these feelings in mind, I came across the extraordinary dance art of Loie Fuller who pioneered a form of modern dance and theatrical lighting which became big in Paris in the late 1800’s . Her dance, referred to as the ‘Serpentine dance’ reminded me of the freedom and flutter of our winged friends. I sought to create this set of portraits to thank those dancers in the sky and in hope that we all play our part in ensuring that their song continues to be sung and that our springs will never be silenced. 

Silent Spring 

Inspired by: 'Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson & the hypnotising dancing of Loie Fuller. These mornings I wake up not to the honking of horns and loud chatter rising up into my bedroom window, but to the sound of birds momentarily taking pause to sing their song to those willing to listen. It has been a sound of spring bringing comfort to my days in lockdown. A call connecting us all over the globe even through these times of tragedy. Even through suffering, nature continues and in many ways, it’s been thriving thanks to our recent decrease in intervention of the natural order.

With these feelings in mind, I came across the extraordinary dance art of Loie Fuller who pioneered a form of modern dance and theatrical lighting which became big in Paris in the late 1800’s . Her dance, referred to as the ‘Serpentine dance’ reminded me of the freedom and flutter of our winged friends. I sought to create this set of portraits to thank those dancers in the sky and in hope that we all play our part in ensuring that their song continues to be sung and that our springs will never be silenced. 

❤️

Inspired by: Henri de-Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1892 passionate painting, “In Bed-The Kiss”, of two women embracing with a kiss.

These days, our love lays at our fingertips. And for many in lockdown, our phones have become even more so our gateway to relationships and the outside world. We blow kisses with emojis and express our feelings to screens. This is nothing new. Our technological extension is both a blessing and a curse keeping us always connected while pulling us away from where we are. 

❤️

Inspired by: Henri de-Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1892 passionate painting, “In Bed-The Kiss”, of two women embracing with a kiss.

These days, our love lays at our fingertips. And for many in lockdown, our phones have become even more so our gateway to relationships and the outside world. We blow kisses with emojis and express our feelings to screens. This is nothing new. Our technological extension is both a blessing and a curse keeping us always connected while pulling us away from where we are. 

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