Quarantine; a time to look into the mirror

Written by David Ardill

During this strange time of self isolation and quarantine, many of us are stuck at home looking in the mirror wondering what is next. Last week while thinking about this strange and unique situation we are all in, I was reminded of the work by Ryan McGinley in his book “Mirror, Mirror”. The book is populated with nude photographs of the artist’s friends in front of arrays of mirrors within their own homes. The participants were given specific instructions on how to photograph themselves throughout 5 rolls of film on a point and shoot camera. 

“I sent a few assistants with fifteen door-sized mirrors to the subjects’ homes, armed with instructions that could be read to them during the course of their shoots. The model could also opt to complete the shoot completely on their own. The instructions came from distilling the directions I normally give my subjects when shooting. I wanted to let them examine themselves over the course of shooting five rolls of film with the kind of camera that fewer and fewer people are accustomed to using. No opportunities to self-edit.”


When looking at McGinleys work and also reading his essay on the piece I was drawn to the concept and the idea of his work transcending himself, and empowering others.

“I’ve always been fascinated by projects in which the artist conceives of the idea and provides instructions, but the work is executed by others. Conceptual projects like these have so many visual possibilities and points of contact. A photographer should also be able to conceive of a work and then delegate its actual execution to others.”


Also while further digesting the work, I was struck with the reminder that we as a nation are what feels like the exact situation and scenario as his subjects. We are at home, we are alone, and often we find ourselves in front of our mirrors examining ourselves and the time that we are in. 

During this time of self isolation, I would encourage you to take a look at McGinleys work in “Mirror, Mirror” then in response, look at themselves in the mirror as well. 

While looking at my own work, I was reminded of a self portrait I did last semester. Coincidentally enough it involved a mirror and I did happen to also be alone in my room questioning who I was and how I wanted to be represented. McGinleys essay on the work is amazing and on his website he even includes the instructions that he gave the subjects, Go check it out. I will attach his work along with my self portrait and essay that I created with it. Go create!




Here is my own self reflection and portrait that I created in the Fall.

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