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Mass Isolation Project - An online photo album gorgeously capturing Irish life under lockdown

By Sarah Finnan

June 5, 2020 at 3:32pm

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An online album of sorts, the Mass Isolation Project is a gorgeously curated archive of life during lockdown - both in Ireland and further afield. Pushed along by a "collective spirit of curiosity, unknowing and hope", it will be archived by the National Library of Ireland.

2020 has gotten off to a rocky start and while the world has been going through an exceedingly difficult time the past few months, I think it's fair to say that we're watching history in the making. History isn't always pretty though - in fact, many times it's the very opposite, but documenting both the good, the bad and the ugly is a necessary part of learning from past experiences. Which is exactly what the Mass Isolation Project is encouraging people to do.

Inspired by Mass-Observation, the social research organisation founded in 1937, organisers behind the Mass Isolation Project describe it as: "an evolving democratic archive of this extraordinary moment in our shared history seen from the perspective of the people living it".

Initiated by the Gallery of Photography of Ireland, the project has been taken up in countries across the globe - adopted by partner organisations over in countries as far-flung as Finland, the UK and Australia. Inviting people to share photos of their experiences of life during lockdown, the idea is to create an online album of sorts giving people a view on history as it happens. Traditionally, archives are put together after events have taken place but social media means that creatives can curate collections in real-time with contributions from people all around the world.

Using specially created hashtags,  the project is a crowd-sourced online archive already boasting over 18,000 photos from people around the world with close to 6k photos shared in Ireland alone. Detailing the impact of Covid-19 on daily life, it provides people with a platform through which they can share both the beauty and the struggle of everyday experiences.

Encouraging people to get involved and share their own experiences, it's a way to inspire both creativity and togetherness. Combining global and local voices, the archive beautifully captures what life under lockdown looks like around the world. Even the National Library of Ireland has gotten on board, committing to preserve the project as part of their Covid-19 Web Archive collection.

So far, there have been submissions from Gallery of Photography exhibiting artists Kate Nolan, Ciaran Dunbar, Nigel Swanson and Kenneth O’Halloran but anyone can get involved regardless of whether they have photography experience or not.

According to organisers, the plan is to assemble a wide selection of the contributions to the project for a public projection event later in the year but until then, you can check out the hashtag (#massisolationirl) on Instagram and have a look at what other people have been getting up to while at home.

(Header image courtesy of simonpearephotography)

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