Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin assembles a crack team of Magnum photographers to spread a message of hope
Looking at how coronavirus and lockdown are affecting communities across the globe, the issue shows an intimate side to photojournalism.
- Laura Snoad
- 24 April 2020
Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin has collaborated with photographers from Magnum photo agency to create an entire issue dedicated to the theme of hope. Twenty photographers were involved in the project, including Alec Soth, Enri Canaj, Peter van Agtmael, Christina de Middel, Trent Parke, Rafal Milach, Olivia Arthur, Nanna Heitmann, Lindokuhle Sobekwa, Nikos Economopoulos, Zied Ben Romdhane, Thomas Dworsak, Alex Majoli, Moises Saman, Hiroji Kubota, Cristina Garcia Rodero, Chien-Chi Chang, Patrick Zachmann and an anonymous photographer from Wuhan, China.
For the edition of the German magazine, which was published today (24 April), art director Birthe Steinbeck tasked the international group to create new work that explored the question "What gives you hope in these times?" and interviewed them about how coronavirus is affecting their lives and work. “The corona pandemic unites the world in concern – and also reveals many differences,” Steinbeck tells It’s Nice That. “In a township in South Africa some people think the virus is a myth, in Madrid the streets are empty, in Tehran full, in Wuhan people are already being released from hospitals, while in Athens they still have to send an SMS to the government before they go out the door.”
Featuring photographers from every continent, the issue speaks to this diverse global difference. Some photographers depict deserted streets: Alec Soth, for example, drove around his home city of Minnesota in a minivan capturing snapshots of domestic life, and submitted an image of a strange mannequin hanging from a tree outside a suburban home. Others, like Newsha Tavakolian’s image of Iranians queuing for a water tao, show how social distancing and daily necessities rub against each other.
“The photographers of Magnum are always out there,” says Steinbeck. “But now they are home and staying in. It was interesting to see and listen to their experiences. Because this is exactly the opposite of their life as photo journalists – it was a whole new challenge for them. Perhaps this made them develop new very personal work and directions they had not thought of before. Many got more in touch with their family, neighbours, people helping in their communities and their own cities.”
Some of the images show medical triumphs, such as a patient leaving hospital in Wuhan, while others are heartwarming and a touch humorous. Enri Canaj has depicted a masked family having a picnic atop a roof in built-up corner of Athens, while Jordanian photographer Moises Saman’s shot of a bus delivering bread show stacks of supplies sitting in seats just like humans normally do. Others show personal ways of dealing with isolation, in unusual exercise routines or domestic rituals. “Many of the photographers were in total quarantine, a few affected by the virus themselves,” Steinbeck tells It’s Nice That. “Others were out there working – safely working. We wanted to show a good balance of private moments and street photography, being out there as far as possible right now. But yes, we were limited.”
Süddeutsche Zeitung Magazin hopes that the issue will bring some light to those feeling isolated and despairing amid the crisis. “Hope can stand against sorrow and fear,” says Steinbeck. “It is hard to take away from people.”