Until now, I have strongly resisted the crossover between my photographic life and my medical life. With the onset of the coronavirus, things changed. It was time to relax this boundary. As a result, these images are a major departure from my previous works.

Heartbreaking news from Italy of a novel and deadly virus began to filter through to Toronto at the end of February 2020. This was quickly followed by an outright disaster developing to our south in New York City. By the end of March, we were seeing a small but steady increase in the number of COVID-19 patients in our emergency departments. We prepared for the worst, hoped for the best.

In May, the environment of the emergency department transformed into something profoundly different from anything I had experienced as a frontline physician. Everything about work and life changed;the items I took with me to work, how I dressed, the strict and constantly evolving infection control procedures and protocols at the hospital, and how I re-entered my home after a shift.

I felt a need to document this time, if not to make sense of it, then simply to record that it happened in this way. All images were shot on my iPhone through a protective Ziploc® bag — a hack to limit contamination and spread of the virus and to ease disinfection. In effect, the resulting images evoke the strangeness and visceral experiences of working in a time that was anything but normal.

—Brant Slomovic


Artist Biography

Brant Slomovic (b. 1970, Montreal) is a Canadian photo-essayist based in Toronto, where he is also a practicing Emergency Medicine physician at University Health Network. His experiences as a frontline physician inform a unique perspective on the human condition, an attribute he carries with him into his role as a storyteller and image-maker. He employs long-form documentary projects to examine narratives of culture and identity. What underlies Brant’s approach is a viewpoint that considers every person through a lens of commonality and connection. Brant’s work has been published widely and appears in private collections internationally. In 2020, he published his first monograph, The Cracks in Everything (Kehrer Verlag).

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