The Uncanny Melancholy of Empty Photographs in the Time of Coronavirus

Over the last few weeks, photographs in the news and on social media have documented our behavior in response to COVID-19. Panic buying of pasta, rice and, surprisingly, toilet paper is represented in empty shelf after empty shelf.

That’s not all that is empty.

Images of empty public spaces—from the streets of Ginza, to soccer stadiums, to the Venice canals, to lone masked travelers on buses, trains, and trams—evoke a sense of apocalyptic films and the end of days.

 

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