Travelling the world in the lockdown
A Facebook group is brightening up the quarantine days of thousands of users across the world
On 20 March, when the quarantine imposed to control the spread of covid-19 was enforced in most parts of the world, Barbara Duriau, a graphic designer based in Amsterdam, uploaded a new photograph on her Facebook profile cover. It showed a window opening on to a pink cloud—like a visual prayer of hope for a new dawn. Then, an idea struck her.
“I realized that, in fact, every day I was looking at the same view from the same window," Duriau says on email. “Due to the coronavirus crisis, we are all stuck at home, glued to the same window, looking out at the same view: a building, a wall, a small garden, the mountains, a pool, or the ocean for the lucky ones. The only thing that changes in this view is the sky." This thought led her to create a public group called “View from my window’"that has, in less than a month, over 466,000 members and counting.
The purpose of this platform is to get people from all over the world to share their daily views. You have to follow simple rules, specified by Duriau, while posting. Mention your location and time of taking the photograph in the first line. Each user can post only one image taken during the lockdown. No close-up of your meals, pets or indoor shots.
“I realized people were feeling bored, frustrated with the confinement, tired of the stream of relentless bad news and were looking for a window of relief, a glimmer of optimism, a breath of fresh air and the possibility to travel the world without leaving their couch," Duriau says. Her initiative has become, quite literally, a window to the whole world.
From Alaska to Turkey, Israel to India, people are posting images by the hundreds every day. Indeed, the number of submissions soon became so overwhelming that Duriau had to enlist the help of a team of 10 friends to manage the group. Their daily duty involves sorting through hundreds and thousands of photographs in accordance with the rules of the group. They also have to sift out fake images and improper comments. Along with her usual work, all these activities keep Duriau busy for up to 15 hours.
The images range from glimpses of urban jungles to natural idylls. Each day one image is chosen for the cover of the group. A beautiful view of snowy peaks, posted from Darjeeling by Ajoy Edwards at 7.13am on 30 March, was chosen for this honour the day after.
As a former employee with Moulinsart, the Brussels-based company that promotes the work of Belgian illustrator Hergé (most famously, the creator of Tintin comics), Duriau has a keen eye for detail. “A sharp eye is useful and precious," she says about the images that work the best.
Although tied to a tumultuous moment, the group might have a life beyond the covid-19 pandemic. “I would like to organize a nomad exhibition which would visit some countries where members have posted from their windows," Duriau says. “Another possible project is to create a book (and a calendar) that would be a souvenir from this crazy period. A part of the benefits would go to an organization that I still have to choose."
For now, the group remains a virtual family for thousands across the world, united in their common misery, a source of delight and bonding as they wait out the pandemic.
FIRST PUBLISHED20.04.2020 | 09:30 AM IST