Paula Zuccotti has launched her latest project, 'Future Archaeology of a Global Lockdown,' a photographic time capsule that invited people from across the world to document the items essential to them during the Coronavirus lockdown. The resulting images are mindful reflections on our state of being, needs, hopes and fears captured during an unprecedented period in our history.
Archeologically found artifacts have taught us everything we know about past civilizations, revealing how these societies lived, worked, played, cooked and expressed themselves. 'Future Archeology,' a term coined by Paula Zuccotti, challenges us to imagine what future generations will learn about our habits, needs and desires when they study and decode our essential everyday objects.
Paula Zuccotti is an ethnographer, industrial designer and trends forecaster. This is a journey that Zuccotti started with her first book 'Every Thing We Touch: A 24 Hour Inventory of our Lives.' She documented people from five continents through photographs of everything they touched in one day, inviting viewers to discover the character behind the images through everyday items. 'Future Archaeology of a Global Lockdown' forms a part of this larger body of work that demonstrates how simple, everyday objects can tell extraordinary stories about our existence.
By April 2020, half of the world's population was under lockdown as a result of government stay-at-home orders. Sensing the profound scale of the pandemic and subsequent shift in our ways of living and working, Zuccotti set out to examine how the crisis had impacted societies and individuals as told through essential everyday objects.
Working within the confines of quarantine and using the power of social media, Zuccotti enticed the world to join in and visually respond to the question: "What are the fifteen things that are helping you get through this?" A year later, from children and teenagers to older generations, over 1,000 individuals from 50 countries have submitted an image of the items most important to them, accompanied by a title and a personal narrative that supports the objects.
"When the reality surrounding Covid-19 hit, I couldn't help but notice a shift in the objects we were using," Zuccotti said. "As someone who believes in the power of objects to tell our stories, I was eager to document the items we were using not just to create a time capsule for future generations, but also to find out what these items could tell us about ourselves and our present circumstances. In my work, I find the questions I get asked about the future hide a truth: we don't understand the present. This archive connects us with our present through the lenses of people with different experiences from all over the world."
The photographs submitted provide an honest and raw look at life during lockdown as the way we worked, learned, connected, and even the way we loved underwent a seismic shift. Objects that might have a stigma attached were openly shared including sleeping pills, antidepressants, books on mental health, sex toys and alcohol. Each image features a curated selection of 15 personal artifacts imbued with meaning, and which present a revealing portrait of our shared experience.
Photo: Chloe Coulson, Courtesy of Paula Zuccotti