panic buyers welcome lockdown chris bethell

Can We Appreciate How Weird the 'New Normal' Actually Looks

We commissioned ten photographers to make essays reflecting the time we're living in. The first, "PANIC BUYERS WELCOME", is by Chris Bethell.
31 May 2020, 12:00pm

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

A few weeks ago, VICE UK put a call out to some of our favourite photographers. We wanted submissions for photo essays that reflect the time we're living in – but interesting, imaginative projects, not just "I'm stuck inside, here are some pictures of my cheese-plant".

Luckily, because the photographers we reached out to are all interesting and imaginative people, we got a ton of great ideas back, which we've whittled down to ten final projects. We'll be running one every week for the next ten weeks, starting today, to be followed by an exhibition you can stage in your very own home (details on that to come).

The first project, PANIC BUYERS WELCOME, is by Chris Bethell, who has kindly explained it for you below.

"'PANIC BUYERS WELCOME' is a portrait of the more surreal moments I've witnessed while walking the streets of east London during lockdown. I began to document London for VICE on the 16th of March, when it became apparent that life in the city was changing due to the threat of coronavirus. I found that the photos I'd seen of London's apparently 'empty' streets and landmarks were mostly disingenuous, so turned my camera onto the people cropped out of other photographers' frames.

"When the lockdown was announced on the 23rd of March I felt it would be irresponsible to keep going into the city, so instead turned my focus to places not too far from my home. The photos tell a light hearted story of the stranger moments in daily life during an epidemic. Moments that, just four or five months ago, would have made absolutely zero sense."