Youth on Lockdown. The student Valentin Goppel deals with the effects of the pandemic on his generation in the project “Between the Years”.
When the news first talked about the lockdown, I was visiting my parents. Full of excitement about the extended vacation, I wrote a note on the kitchen table, “Universities are closed, maybe I’ll stay a few more days.” Full of energy, I didn’t finish the sentence, the note ended with the words “maybe I wi-“. The joy did not last long. Corona pulled the rug out from under me. It took me some time to realize that I was not alone.
On New Year’s Eve, I photographed the first scene of my project about young people in times of Corona: after a long conversation with his parents, a friend met two classmates at the turn of the year for the first time in many months. Together they ignited the silver swirls and firecrackers from last year and then went into quarantine. The food had my friend put in front of the door. From then on, I photographed such scenes again and again. I took photos of acquaintances and acquaintances of acquaintances. Mostly it was the people I had missed for months. Together we found ways to capture our state of limbo. Some scenes were observed from a distance, others arose from a sudden impulse or shared memory.
Not yet knowing where to hold on when everything is shaky may be part of the state between being a kid and being an adult anyway. Corona is another catalyst of disorientation. Suddenly we were fighting the demons we had held back by comforting distractions. Like many others, I still haven’t settled in at the university. My state of limbo drags on.
The message to my parents mentioned at the beginning is now stuck in a picture frame as a document of time. It is in a moving box in my new shared room. The room is not really furnished yet. Sometimes it still feels like I’m just camping here.
Valentin Goppel was awarded the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award and the VGH Photo Prize in 2022 for his photo series “Between the Years”.