In the photographers' homemade wonderland, shoes are fashioned from canned soup and Domino's boxes are headwear
Self-isolation with a partner can easily descend into chaos—but for photographers Heather Glazzard and Nora Nord, it’s allowed them to carve out a space for a future where fluid love and gender-diverse bodies reign free and honest in the household. During a time when everything feels upside down and inside out, the London-based couple finds solace in the mundane, creating imaginative mini-occasions inspired by everyday moments and each other’s company.
“When we create, the anxious and bad parts of my brain shut off, leaving the fun and solution-oriented parts to rule,” Nord says. “Creating together feels like a dancing meditation.”
In Glazzard and Nord’s playful tango, Domino’s pizza boxes transform into statement headpieces—“inspired by thinking about how consumers constantly need to buy, buy, buy,” Glazzard explains—while all-seeing surveillance manifests as a legion of googly-eyed stickers decorating the photographers’ faces. Meanwhile, in the backyard, a castle stands proud, constructed entirely out of leftover cardboard swiped from the neighbors.
“I’m inspired by having nothing at all to do and everything to do,” says Glazzard. “The world doesn’t make sense right now and our work’s trying to reflect that.”
The last time Glazzard and Nord turned the camera onto themselves was the middle of last year when Glazzard broke her leg. As she was unable to move around easily, the mishap led to an unfiltered series of self-portraits depicting microcosms of her and Nord’s intimacy—followed by an invitation to physically step into the couple’s relationship when Glazzard and Nord transformed their East London home into a makeshift gallery to exhibit the series, titled Porridge XXX. The portrayal of a domestic relationship as vulnerable and freeing as theirs is rare, as depictions of romance are typically constricted by binary definitions of gender or relegated to stereotypical representations in mainstream culture (or both).
The isolation series feels, in many ways, similar to Porridge XXX, but it is undeniable that the new images capture something profoundly of the current climate. Underscored by an innocent, child-like spirit that Glazzard and Nord bring out in one another—“when we make a portrait it’s like playing”—the portraits are a testament to creativity in its purest form, of trying to make sense of a strange and uncertain moment in time. Document catches up with the photographers from across the Atlantic to pick their brains on life during quarantine.
Kelly Lim: How are you passing the days?
Heather Glazzard: I spent the whole of Monday collaging pictures we’d been taking—I can be obsessive and really not think about anything [else]. Tuesday, we turned ourselves into collages. Wednesday, Nora made some shoes out of tinned soup and I spent hours researching art movements. I’ve found a great home workout I do every day, it’s not pretty.
Nora Nord: Structure is important to keep my ADHD in check, so we try to fit in exercise, self-portraits, and research every day. This week we made ourselves into collages and wore giant underwear. I made tin can shoes and we’re making sculpture feet to go with them. Days vary depending on our mood—sometimes we’ll be extremely creative and sometimes we won’t do anything but eat and read.
Kelly: How do you stay inspired at home?
Heather: I’ve found that the home itself is my main source of inspiration. When you’re in the outside world it’s harder to think, but being at home really limits you and forces you to think about what you can use to stage an image.
Nora: I’ve started reading again and have devoured everything by Carmen Maria Machado. I want to publish a book or collection of stories in the future, so I’ve started writing again and reading my diary from when I was a teenager—revisiting my frame of mind from back then has inspired me to keep going. I also stay inspired by learning new things: watching art documentaries, reading academic articles, making tie-dye and learning how to use clay.
Kelly: How has isolation influenced your relationship with yourselves, each other, and creativity?
Heather: My relationship with myself feels more free. I feel really young again and my creativeness feels stronger. I’m intrigued by history that I wouldn’t have looked at before and I’m writing so much. I’ve fallen in love with creativity all over again, something that I think can be lost when you’re just focused on making your next paycheck. Weirdly, it feels like a good space. I haven’t cracked yet. I feel closer to Nora and our sex life is so much better than it was two months ago. She made me a leaf ring the other day; it feels like we’re in our honeymoon period again.
Nora: We are so lucky to be healthy and have everything we need. Isolation has been the slow-down and meditation I needed. Heather and I have never been better. Overall, I feel more centered and clear-minded, a feeling that was lacking in the beginning of the year. I’m nourished and happy, and this makes me the most creative.
Kelly: What have you learned so far during quarantine?
Heather: I learnt about warias [a third-gender community] in Indonesia, the history of minimalism, and arte povera. Having nothing to do is amazing for my creativity.
Nora: Slow is good.
Kelly: Is there anything significant that you’ve been thinking about during this period?
Heather: How grateful I am to be alive. I’ve been thinking a lot about capitalism and consumerism. I think that’s where the idea for the Domino’s photograph came from. During times like this, it becomes evident how unnecessary our economic system is. We truly don’t need the things we think we do.
Nora: Life is a drag show. We put on different faces and personas and sometimes we forget the makeup and costumes are on. I’m thinking of how to be aware of that. Even if the costume is a suit or a way of thinking or seeing the world. I’m thinking a lot about mental flexibility and openness—and that when this is over, we’re gonna get married.
Kelly: What do you hope other people will take away from the series?
Heather: We hope they take away a feeling of spontaneity and open-mindedness. Maybe it’ll even inspire people to be more spontaneous themselves.
Nora: I hope they laugh and can relate to the picture of my face squished against the window.
Kelly: How do you see the world changing when lockdown lifts?
Heather: I’m hoping that this will bring more awareness to the global climate crisis, and to minorities who are vulnerable in these times. But maybe I’m being too wishful? I fear that once this is over everything will spring back to normal and we’ll forget how this life-changing event could have [changed our economy for the better]. I’d hope fashion will slow down, people might slow down—just the world [slow down], basically, but let’s see.
Nora: I think all of our tiny world bubbles will change in accordance to the extent that each of us changes. Personally, I’ve accepted that slower is better for me. It will be all these tiny internal changes that ripple into a bigger change. I hope it’s a good one. I think it will be.