Quarantine Blues

  • Photographer
    Leonard Suryajaya
  • Prize
    3rd Place / Analog / Film/Fine Art
  • Company/Studios
    Leonard Suryajaya
  • Date of Photograph
  • Technical Info
    All photographs shot on 4x5 Kodak Ektar 100iso with Linhof Technikardan camera.

Quarantine Blues speaks, with humor and tragedy, to notions of community, family, love, isolation, and health, as well as finding hospitality amidst adversity. Employing humble everyday objects and subjects, I make fantastical renderings of life’s uncertainties to find a sense of order amid chaos. Charting the erratic tempo of the past year, following the horror of the COVID-19 pandemic and a global sociocultural upheaval, I came to realize that individual and social hardships do not exist in isolation. Overwhelmed and bemused, I seek out a more positive outlook of the current era.


/Heart beats in rhythm, pounding out of control. Anxiety sinks in through the slits and slips of what’s unknown, but only at first. Suryajaya’s art is about taking time, time to reconsider so you might allow imagination to reassemble what is possible./

Free forms take flight in these pictures. People unite under the semblance of Suryajaya’s lens. Flashes of folds and piles of paper get strung out on walls and body parts. Sometimes Cheerios too. Faces stretched, showering shots of color and light. The kinds of images that Suryajaya captures imagine what else is beyond the reach of reality. Elements cry out in celebrations. A formidable frown or a group smothered in simple gestures. All of the parts of the frames feeding currents of questions clustered around who it is to be an Indonesian immigrant, queer, caring being of desires and comforts. What is found is fabulous because Suryajaya is committed to play, reinvention, collaboration, and interpretation.

2020 was a long-term investment. Harmful, hurtful, uniquely advantageous, and complex. The emotions of quarantine are rife with the feelings associated with any human relation. But these frames are not solely his; they belong in part to the cooperation of those in the frame as well. The wealth of dynamism in the pictures is boundless because they have histories and humanity. They swell with the sorts of revelations that can only come from a vivid imagination. Countries we call home are hounds sometimes. Those places are all informed by complex systems of supremacy. Grounded in traumas and threats, they reflect the way different is viewed by figures and foundations that would never allow for such ideals to exist. So where these works are imaginative, they are not imaginary. They are still bound to what is realistic.

/Isolation can feel like that kind of a possibility, /but deeper than that, /what this time has been is an opportunity to work with fear as a baseline /to form new ways of seeing and being./

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