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Physical Closeness and Distance
Corona Rhapsody

After a long lockdown, Jan and Undine, who were already a couple before the pandemic, spend the first warm summer day in May 2021 enjoying the fresh air in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig.
After a long lockdown, Jan and Undine, who were already a couple before the pandemic, spend the first warm summer day in May 2021 enjoying the fresh air in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig. | Photo (detail): © Rafael Heygster

“Corona Rhapsody” is a contribution to the discussion on the question of what has changed in our society since the pandemic. The photographer Rafael Heygster has captured various scenes of public life and diverse social situations.

By Rafael Heygster

Like Freddy Mercury asks in Bohemian Rhapsody: “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”, I have often been confronted with the questions of what is actually happening around us and where the border between fantasy and reality lies, since the outbreak of the pandemic. I am interested in the tension between public life, the apparatus behind it and the people who move in this space.

Some images focus on the sense of surreality in the first weeks of the pandemic and have been photographed in collaboration with Helena Lea Mahartsberger (first photo from 27.04.2020, Hanover). In the second phase, the images documents life during the acclimatisation to the state of emergency as well as the decline of the pandemic and the resulting normalisation of everyday life, questioning whether there is a possibillity to “return” to old normality at all, or whether the impact of the pandemic has caused lasting changes in our society.  

Mounted policewomen disperse three young men playing football in a park. In Germany it is forbidden at the time to be in public with more than two people if you do not belong to a family living in the same household. Photo taken: 27.04.2020, Hanover. Mounted policewomen disperse three young men playing football in a park. In Germany it is forbidden at the time to be in public with more than two people if you do not belong to a family living in the same household. Photo taken: 27.04.2020, Hanover. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster
 
In mid-June, 120 of 700 residents of a prefabricated building in northern germany are infected with corona. The city bans all resi¬dents from leaving the housing complex, imposes a quarantine and puts up fences. Photo taken: 23.06.2020, Göttingen. In mid-June, 120 of 700 residents of a prefabricated building in northern germany are infected with corona. The city bans all resi¬dents from leaving the housing complex, imposes a quarantine and puts up fences. Photo taken: 23.06.2020, Göttingen. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster
 
Parents and children from two different families take a walk in compliance with the regulations of social distancing one day before Christmas Eve in Munich. Photo taken: 23.12.2020, Munich. Parents and children from two different families take a walk in compliance with the regulations of social distancing one day before Christmas Eve in Munich. Photo taken: 23.12.2020, Munich. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster
 
Neo-Nazis demonstrate against the measures to contain the pandemic in Chemnitz. During the Corona crisis, extremist right-wing movements in Germany receive a lot of growth from different parts of the society. Photo taken: 01.05.2021, Chemnitz. Neo-Nazis demonstrate against the measures to contain the pandemic in Chemnitz. During the Corona crisis, extremist right-wing movements in Germany receive a lot of growth from different parts of the society. Photo taken: 01.05.2021, Chemnitz. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster
 
After a long lockdown, Jan and Undine, who were already a couple before the pandemic, spend the first warm summer day in May 2021 enjoying the fresh air in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig. After a long lockdown, Jan and Undine, who were already a couple before the pandemic, spend the first warm summer day in May 2021 enjoying the fresh air in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster
 
While fitness studios are closed, Max and his friend do their workout in the open air on a fallow land in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig. While fitness studios are closed, Max and his friend do their workout in the open air on a fallow land in Leipzig. Photo taken: 09.05.2021, Leipzig. | Photo: © Rafael Heygster

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