In 'View Point,' Thomas Lohr and artist Olu Odukoya highlight the intimacy and isolation of urban living under lockdown
The reality of city living is defined by being surrounded by thousands of strangers pursuing their anonymous ends—a situation that yields excitement but also a distinct sense of isolation, as other lives pass you by. The urban experience has been given a powerful and moving Covid-19 era update in View Point, a photographic collaboration between renowned German photographer Thomas Lohr and artist Olu Odukoya. The book is a documentary of sorts, effectively capturing how the pandemic has skewed the dynamics of everyday city life.
Quarantined in his Paris apartment at the beginning of the pandemic, Lohr began shooting passersby from his balcony in an attempt to cope with his isolation. “Watching people from afar,” he says, “was like watching a movie in real-time and helped me deal with being alone.” In over 600 pages containing hundreds of photographs, we see not individuals but figures, alone or in groups, heading towards unknown destinations. For Lohr, it is the patterns created by their comings and goings that form the artistic crux of View Point. “The project is more about the number and repetition of the pictures. The continuous stream of photographs gives the impression of the never-ending quarantine,” he articulates.
Directional arrows and text placed directly on the images resonate with the work of legendary artists like Robert Frank, John Baldessari, and Jannis Kournellis. Beyond that, View Point spotlights the irony that although these are photographs of people on the street, this is far from street photography. It is conceptual art composed of signs, symbols, and images that point to the indeterminate new coronavirus reality, but we’re still too engulfed to see the full pattern.