“How often do you share what’s really on your mind?” This is the question that photographer Doma Dovgialo was asking when deciding to create lockdown photography project Portraits of the Quarantined Mind — a series inviting individuals across the world to illustrate their internal, unseen feelings over FaceTime portraits shot by Doma. The result is a colourful, and at times chaotic, creative project documenting the emotional toll of lockdown alongside handwritten letters describing each subject’s mental states in their own words.
Doma answered some of our quick-fire questions about the series, read on to learn more and find out how to get involved.
Hey Doma! Can you tell us a bit more about this project?
Portraits of the Quarantined Mind is an online collaboration inviting people (whom I photograph over FaceTime) to reveal their innermost thoughts by drawing on their portrait. The result is a snapshot of the impact that quarantine is having on our mental states.
What is the purpose of this project for you?
To normalise dialogue around our emotions and thoughts. I want to remind people that despite the physical distancing, we are more connected than ever. It can be liberating to open up, share, and be vulnerable.
What have you personally struggled with during lockdown?
The feeling of being out of control. Our lives are centred around making plans; be it your lunch for tomorrow or daydreaming about where you will be in 5 years from now. The pandemic has shown us that being in control is just an illusion. We plan for life to proceed alongside our expectations but more often than not, it doesn’t. Yet still, we choose to assume we have control. I am constantly worried about failure and not being good enough, but am I reaching my own goals or merely trying to impress someone? Most of our thoughts are neither present nor positive – and although we seem to be wired this way in order to survive, it can also leave us in a spiral of never appreciating what’s right in front of us or not being kind to yourself when you really. deserve it.
Why did you decide to include the handwritten notes and drawings alongside your portraits?
I often feel that a photograph is simply not enough. It seems like it’s only showing my point of view as a photographer and lacking a deeper communication with the subject. I tried to address this feeling by finding a way to incorporate the person’s own voice; to encourage them to step out of their comfort zone and try to create a portrait of themselves in a different and creative way. The handwritten notes feel almost tactile, so human and fragile and show the personality of the sitter. I find that the best way to visualise what another person has been through is to allow them to become the main storyteller.
Who have you photographed so far? Any stories that particularly moved you or you found surprising?
I started photographing people I know and then moved onto photographing strangers. Each story has warmed my heart and it has been a blessing for my own mind to realise that we are all in the same boat. We are all getting more time alone with our thoughts than we are used to and it’s taking us on a journey ranging from an existential crisis on a Monday, the mid-week startup idea, to the Friday speculation of whether wearing jeans will just never be a thing anymore…
I know you’re still looking for more people to participate — who would you like to take part in the project?
Currently, I’m lacking diversity in my project – in terms of geography, circumstance, age – you name it. I would like to include and explore all sorts of minds and people from all across the globe.