Ballarat International Foto Biennale launches Mass Isolation book capturing our lockdown experience

Craig Mitchell's Motel Isolation
Craig Mitchell's Motel Isolation

Photographs of the mass isolation that the coronavirus pandemic imposed on Australia last year will be preserved for generations to come in a new book.

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale put a call out to photographers during the various periods of lockdown across the country to capture the images they felt best reflected the unprecedented time.

Ditchy's view

Ditchy's view

More than 12,000 images were submitted for the Mass Isolation project, which originally was to be two Instagram feeds - one containing all the photographs and a second curated Instagram feed of the photographs that best captured the feeling and experience of isolation.

But it has now grown into a 208-page book that will be printed with environmental sensitivities in mind.

"I tasked the curators to look at the 500 or so images in the curated Instagram and we've ended up with more than 200 images in the book that are all based on themes which simply emerged from the photographs submitted," said BIFB director Fiona Sweet.

"There were people who looked at family, people who looked at home, people who looked at all the empty streets and people who looked at things that were closed ... so we were able to group photos according to theme in the book.

"The more I looked at what happened last year, the more I realised that photography was really important for so many people. It was a way of communicating what they were doing and what other people were doing with the photographs.

Ms Sweet said she had decided to print the books on demand, so anyone interested in buying a copy must order one by the end of February after which the books will be printed according to the number ordered.

More than 280 copies of the $39 book have already been ordered through the BIFB website.


"We just don't want waste so there will be a cut off point and we will print to the number of people who purchase the book," she said.

The 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Victoria's Central Highlands will run from August 28 to October 24.

This story A photographic study of COVID mass isolation first appeared on The Courier.