New photography exhibition captures pandemic life and the cityscape


What was once an empty gallery space over the past year is now home to Roderick Topping’s “Strange Times: Downtown New Haven in the COVID Era” photography exhibit.

Contributing journalist

Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, the New Haven Museum at 114 Whitney Ave. has opened a new exhibit that features excerpts from the impact of the pandemic on Elm City in 36 photographs.

The exhibition, entitled “Strange times: Downtown New Haven in the COVID era ”, has photos of cityscapes, people and local buildings by Roderick Topping, artist based in New Haven. His project capitalized on the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Haven, with the exhibition showcasing works dating from early March 2020 to September this year. The exhibition opened on Wednesday at 10 a.m. and will be open to the public until March 25, 2022 on the top floor of the museum.

“Everyone’s stories matter. Especially in a community of this size, your own story is history, and there is no short story, ”Jason, director of the museum’s photographic archives. Bischoff-Wurstle noted. “You look at what everyday life is and how it becomes history. “

According to Topping, the photographs were more of a documentary on the city’s rapidly changing culture during the pandemic than a commentary on specific socio-political themes. He hopes future visitors to New Haveners and museums will examine “this record of time and existence” and remember how COVID-19 has impacted every facet of the city.

The photographs feature local bars, residents, restaurants and street corners as well as Yale University. They capitalize on the emptiness and grim reality of the city as it struggles to navigate a pandemic world, a stark contrast to the bustling community of people and transients that “the homeless and the rich” once knew. , according to Topping.

Like other visitors, Bischoff-Wurstle felt a personal connection to the works. He spoke of the unique feeling he identified upon seeing a photo of familiar neighborhood buildings that have now been reused for other uses.

Although Topping said he initially took all the photos in color, he desaturated most of them during the editing process to achieve a monochromatic effect, which he said was “what I think I am.” memory of those days: dark, lonely and surreal. ”

Cailin Hoang ’25, who attended the show on the day it opened, explained that Topping’s choice of colors and decision to showcase everyday places “really stopped time.” Every detail is emphasized and viewers are drawn to every crack in every building and every aspect of what is depicted – “whether physical or visceral,” Hoang said. She added that viewers will feel abandoned and alone while viewing these photographs, which will help them better understand the reality of what it was like to live during a pandemic.

According to Topping, the collection started as a personal project. The photographs were taken on her daily walks through the city center and uploaded to her social media accounts, where they then received positive feedback from Bischoff-Wurstle and other local residents. Although he said the current collection represents a full snapshot of a specific moment in the pandemic, he hopes to expand the project to reflect the uncertainty of pandemic life.

“The city, the country is changing rapidly… and there is no sign that things are slowing down to a calm pace,” said Bischoff-Wurstle. “I say take a step back and ask questions. What’s going on? What are our feelings about this? “

The “Strange Times” exhibit follows standard admission prices and museum hours, which can be viewed on the New Haven Museum website. here.


Brian Zhang is a freshman at Davenport College.


Comments are closed.