For his latest body of work, Breathing Zone, LA-based photographer Gionatan Tecle wanted to explore the idea of social distancing – not just amidst the Covid-19 pandemic – but in "normal" life, too.
Featuring only himself and his partner in her small apartment during lockdown, the Italian born African photographer and cinematographer wanted to reflect how he often feels in public spaces: "I was moved by the three to six feet rule which states that if I stand within three to six feet of someone, you may inhale some of what I exhale. The rule made me think of the space we inhabit as a bubble that is used as a measure of caution in public settings and how this thought is and can be subconsciously carried in a private domestic space.
"The feeling I myself have felt as a person of colour navigating public space and how that has currently been the thing I worry about the most. I guess what has kept me going during the lockdown is my sense of self and my photography work as this practice that has been helping me make sense of it all."
The series is stripped back, using hardly any equipment, something that Gionatan says has taught him a lot: "I've learnt that we are all at our most creative when stripped down to the basic essentials. Not having access to lights, cameras, talent or locations has given me more freedom to focus on the meaning behind why I am creating a photo. With the series it allowed me to constantly revisit my goal and figure out creative ways of accomplishing this with what I had lying around my partner's apartment."
Will he be doing anything different following lockdown? "I feel this experience has allowed me to listen more closely to myself as an artist. Staying true to my intentions and bringing more people around me that can help with my vision. Not being afraid of where I came from and letting it be known what I represent as a first-generation immigrant of colour in America. Lastly, using photography to fuel my passion as a cinematographer."
Gionatan Tecle completed his BFA from the University of Maryland Baltimore County undergraduate programme in Cinematic Art in 2012. He then worked as a camera operator for five years with a strong passion for exploring further his interest in experimental narratives and documentaries. He later graduated from UCLA School of Theater, Film & Television in Cinematography.
His latest work, Fixed Water, was recently chosen for Official Selection at this year's Palm Spring International ShortFest. He has received several awards for artistic merit including the Motion Picture Association American Award, Myrl Schreibman Fellowship, and the Steve Lawrence and Eddie Gorme Scholarship.