I made this project while under a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a hotel in Beijing, after I had traveled back from overseas. I took a mandatory COVID-19 test during quarantine and was tested negative. This hotel quarantine experience, although surreal and lonely (in that I couldn't leave my room at all, and my only interaction with the outside world was mediated by the low table outside my hotel room, handled by hotel staff in full-body protective suits), was necessary for the wellbeing of myself and people close to me. Out of curiosity, I started to watch and photograph the hotel staff dropping meals outside my door, taking trash from outside our doors, and disinfecting the hallway. This playful act of looking back at the quarantine apparatus and photographing it is a meditation on the new dynamic of power and surveillance in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, in which we have to give up certain rights for the good of public health while stepping in to the unknown of a new normal.
Seen through the peephole: a hotel staff rings my door bell to remind me dinner is left on the low table outside my door.
Seen through the peephole: a hotel staff taking a packed lunch from the cart to drop off outside my door.
I only open the door to take the three meals left on the low table outside my room every day for 14 days.
Seen through the peephole: a hotel staff dragging a cart full of trash taken from outside of each hotel rooms.
Seen through the peephole: a hotel staff walking with a spray bottle to disinfect the hallway.
Seen through the peephole: two medical staff outside my door looking at a piece of paper before they ask me to take the COVID-19 test.
During the mandatory COVID-19 test, one medical worker passes a tube, which is used to collect the sample from the swab test, to the other, outside my hotel room.
Seen through the peephole: after the COVID-19 test, the two medical workers put my sample into a bag before going to the next room to do the test.
If I stick my head out of my room without stepping out, I can see the two sides of the hallway.
I close the curtains to watch a film on my laptop in the couch.
A mercury thermometer and some fruits on my desk, which mark the rhythm of the quarantine days: We have to take our temperature with the thermometer and report to the front desk everyday at 9 AM and 4 PM. We are given a fruit, usually an apple or a pear, at every meal.
A self-portrait of my shadow during the sunset hours in my room.
With my lunch box opened in front of the cell phone, we're having a brunch video chat with two other friends in Beijing, on the ninth day of quarantine.
Staying in the same room and looking at the same things for 14 days make me excited at even the smallest novel details. On the tenth day of quarantine, I find a small rainbow on the wall near my desk.
Early morning light creeps in to my room through the curtain, leaving moody shadows on the wall.
The reflection of my desk on the window, against a background of the street at night.