LIFE IN LOCKDOWN
The virus has gone global. Publications have been trying to make sense of the exponential effect of the virus in cities as it filters to the fabric of society and the economy at large.
+ With maps, red/blue dots and sharp copy, the New York Times gave us a masterclass in visual journalism. It answers the most important question readers have: in spite of extensive travel restrictions, how did the virus get out? And it looks just as good in print too. Kudos to Jin Wu, Weiyi Cai and team. PS: Giving a special mention to Kini News Lab and their comprehensive work tracking Covid-19 in Malaysia in three languages with a news-you-can-use FAQ.
+ Spooky low-contrast, black and white, square format images amplify this sense emptiness in Manila, Philippines. Taken during peak hours, photojournalist Jake Verzosa said: "Clear blue skies, no smog, closed stores, very few people walking and on bicycles. It’s very eerie, especially in the morning."
+ Visual Vox Pop. It was only a matter of time publications come up with a compilation of visuals assigning photographers worldwide – something we call visual placemaking, giving visual context to an important, global event such as this. The two that struck us most was the New York Times' 'The Great Empty' and National Geographic's 'These photos capture a world paused by coronavirus', by Maura Friedman. In terms of scale and sense of loss, the former delivers but we prefer the latter as it allows to feel and relate with the person making the image.
+ Malaysia announced a nationwide lockdown which led to a mass exodus. An estimated 300,000 Malaysian workers travelled from Singapore to Johor Bahru and then back so that they can continue working. This is one of the world's busiest checkpoints and these photographs by The Straits Times photojournalists are testament to that fact. More importantly, CNA's Christy Yip's touching piece really goes to the heart of the issue: such a lockdown, though critical, has affected livelihoods and companies reliant on thousands of Malaysian workers like Sumon Nuam. Their sacrifice is real.
+ Probably the coolest way to watch a movie in South Korea or anywhere else in the world in these interesting times. By AFP photojournalist Ed Jones.
CAN'T QUIT A COAL HABIT
Almost a decade after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, Japan – once the leader on climate change – has found it difficult to rid its reliance on coal – seen as the fastest, cheapest and most reliable way to power the nation. As with most developed countries, how do you balance climate aspirations with economic growth and energy security? Photographs by Noriko Hayashi on Bloomberg.
Before social distancing, there is social withdrawal. Al Jazeera's 101 East documents the 'hikikomori', individuals – usually men – who rarely interact with society beyond their family. There are over one million of hikikomoris in Japan and you can sense these numbers growing in fast-developing urbanised cities all across Asia. Timely and important.
+ "At the police station they tried to get me to sign a statement saying I was a terrorist. They beat me, but I wouldn't sign it. Then they sent me to a deportation center." Even in Istanbul, displaced Uighurs fear that China is pressuring Turkey to threaten them. Compelling and urgent reporting by NPR. Photographs by Nicole Tung.
+ "For me, going back again to a specific place, for Pantura, it’s because I still feel that there is something that I can photograph or I can see or I can experience or I can collect, that I don’t have yet." This revealing conversation between Rony Zakaria and Wei Leng Tay is a must read for visual journalists about process. Pantura: Where are you, Mr. Daendels?, is presented as a culmination of the Objectifs Documentary Award, Open Category.
+ "Part of our sacrifice is not showing our beauty and covering our body in an Islamic way.” The image of a veiled women practicing horseback riding and archery is seared in memory from this NYT report on the tension between religiosity and the fears of growing extremism. Photographs by Minzayar Oo from Myanmar.
+ "Let Hong Kong be Hong Kong.” Lam Yik Fei launches his first book project on Kickstarter titled 'Woh Yuhng'. This photo book chronicles the seven month-long Hong Kong protests from June till December 2019. This is one to watch.
+ "But the lineage of becoming a Bhairav ran in his family, his uncle and many others from his family had served as Bhairav in the Valley for many years." Sabrina Dangol photographs one of Nepal's living gods, the deity Bhairav (a manifestation of Hindu god Shiva), a tradition from the 10th century for the Kathmandu Post. There is something tender about these photographs that you realise this living god is also just a boy growing up.
+ "If you want to see it from a sin point of view, then everything can be sinful." Watch this short documentary on Mak Yong, a traditional Malay dance drama mainly in the Malaysian states of Kelantan/Terengganu and the Patani region of southern Thailand. Candid and colourful by Walkabout Asia.
+ "I tried to think of my father, but there were so many distractions." Newsha Tavakolian reflects on her life in Tehran, Iran – one of the worst-hit countries by the coronavirus. Evocative first person accounts are far and few in between. This is one of the better ones.
MAKING THE CUT
+ It has never been easier to commission an artist for illustration. New Naratif has put together a list of artists working in Asia and their most recent work. Nice.
+ Well how do you tell visual stories in photobooks? Photography consultant and curator Marc Prust presents a live webinar for you to learn at home. Highly recommended.
+ Fake travel photos in Asia. Truly a work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.