Half a Million and Counting
On June 7, 2020, I ventured out of my house with camera in hand for the first time in weeks to document life on the street. The following photo of the Somerville Theater in Davis Square, Massachusetts, with its marquee message, “stay home and be safe,” became the impetus for a series on my Instagram feed, “The Pandemic Chronicles” (and the following month, the inspiration for The Pandemic Lens.) I added “2020” to the Instagram series title after posting a few images, “just in case.” The official death toll on that day in the United States was 109,000, a figure that the media called a “grim milestone.”
Today, February 21, 2021, just eight months later, the death toll from COVID-19 in the U.S. is projected to reach a staggering 500,000. Half a million.
I thought it would be fitting to reshoot my first pandemic photograph as a reminder that we still need to “stay home and be safe.” The theater will hopefully open some day, but I doubt that it will be soon. And I hope there will never be a need for another February photo like this one.
Copyright © 2021 Steven Bennett
Steve Bennett is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based visual artist. He began taking photographs more than 40 years ago, in the age of film, and transitioned to digital photography in the late 90s. Today, in addition to taking and making traditional street, macro, and landscape photographs, he creates photo-based abstract composites designed to take viewers on fanciful flights of the imagination through virtual realms. His work has been displayed in numerous juried exhibitions, and at Google’s Kendall Square, Cambridge offices as well as various technology, biotech, and financial service companies in the Boston area.
The theatre marquee is akin to a billboard for the human response to the pandemic, a public proclamation that We Will Overcome. And I love that you have documented this in different seasons. Thank you for this post, for this blog.
Steve, thank you for your insightful comment–yes the marquee is a sobering billboard for the times.
A subtly haunting image — A good reminder of how far we’ve come and endured. I love the theatre’s optimism too. We all need that.
We need all the reminders we can get in these historic times. Thanks for commenting!