LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova began photographing Lexingtonians on their front porches on March 16th, 2020. It was the same day businesses closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of Kentucky went into a full shutdown.
“The idea was that we would photograph people just making it through at a time that everything seemed very, very difficult,” Gohde said.
The artwork series documented life during 2020.
As time passed, the series became a reflection of Lexington’s population and the things they cared about, including social justice movements like Black Lives Matter in the summer and the cancellation of major life events like graduation.
The one-year anniversary of the date marks the completion of their project, ‘Lexington in the time of COVID-19’.
“I’m really glad we took them because they helped us document this moment in our lives here in Lexington,” Todorova said. “I already feel nostalgia, to be honest. I think, ‘Wow. That was a different time and it’s gone now.”
The pair of friends have added more than 300 pictures to their series.
“The [pictures] already feel to me like a time capsule of this time,” Todorova said.
To complete the artwork, Gohde and Todorova said they felt it was important to revisit five families, all of who added a new family member at some point in the year.
“These kids who weren’t even born a year ago are such a visual marker of the passage of time,” Todorova said. “Every time we saw the babies, we were like, ‘Oh my god, there’s the baby and it’s so big now.’ It was really wonderful.”
Todorova talked about one family, whose son rode a tricycle in the original photograph.
“We said, ‘Hopefully you can persuade Skyler to sit on the same tricycle,’” Todorova recounted. “They came back to us and said, ‘ Well, he outgrew the tricycle, but he will be on a bicycle.’ And then we realized time had passed.”
But that’s okay. It’s what the series is about.
“[We choose these families] so we can celebrate their children and celebrate life as we are saying goodbye to an artwork that was very much about life and perseverance, but also about grief,” Todorova said.
With the year anniversary of the project behind them, Gohde and Todorova said it’s time to put down the camera and continue onto the next piece of art, but they hope people can hold on to the images as reminders of what we’ve all experienced throughout this pandemic.
“In terms of photographing, we’re done. In terms of reflecting on this time in the history of Lexington, hopefully, we’re not done yet,” Todorova said.
You can look at the pictures and read some of the stories of those who participated in ‘Lexington in the time of COVID-19’ here.