A couple years ago EC Gallery featured a photography show called No Humans Around by Mike Rivera. Mike had to get up super early or stay up late, late to capture usually crowded Chicago landmarks in their essence, in a state of tranquility or calm—we asked him how it is now to look back on this project in light of social distancing and the coronavirus impacting how humans interact/don’t interact with their environment.
Let me say, honestly, I had no idea this would become a reality. I created the #nohumansaround hashtag and now it’s getting a lot of attention. Except now I’m conflicted. The whole reason I showcased solitary figures was to contrast them to the space—and now, it’s not a challenge; it just is.
People have asked me if I’m going outside now and how easy it must be to get photos for the project—no, I’m not going outside. It just doesn’t feel the same. The whole concept has shifted. That feeling of shooting a silent, solitary moment has been upended. It now feels chaotic, imposed. Lifeless.
It’s an interesting time to look back and re-interpret #nohumansaround.
Mike’s current show, Americana is still on display at Everybody’s Coffee. It’ll be hanging around for awhile—till the humans come back. Lastly, Mike said in our phone interview, that his life philosophy is that he is never alone. It is this assurance that sustains him.