PPD Readers Pandemic Projects: Sam Kittner's "Faceless Faces in Public Places"

By David Schonauer   Thursday May 28, 2020

Who are those masked people out there in the street?

These days, they’re everyone.

As we venture forth during the coronavirus lockdown, we do so with our faces hidden. This makes human interaction something entirely new. Can we connect emotionally when we can’t see each other smile? Another question: If masks change the way the world sees us, do they also change the way we see the world?

Recently we have been featuring projects created by PPD readers during the pandemic lockdown, and today we spotlight Washington, D.C.-based photographer Sam Kittner’s series “Faceless Faces in Public Places.” During the pandemic — “in brief spurts of exploring” and “taking appropriate safety measures,” notes Kittner — he has been documenting “how communities interact with their environments, capturing the affection people feel for their neighborhoods, and highlighting the vital nature of the places in which we traverse and gather.”

For the project, Kittner wandered throughout neighborhoods — “each with their distinctive sense of place, within the Washington, DC urban core,” as he puts it — to capture people living new kinds of lives against unchanging backdrops.

"I think we are all kind of exhausted from the weight of this crisis and looking for strength wherever we can find it," Kittner says.  "It is interesting to me to photograph in these familiar public spaces, capturing the relationship of people to their neighborhoods, and look at the mask wearing as a visual cue that something is amiss in our world at large.”

Kittner has been posting the work to his Instagram page and says he plans to continue the series throughout the pandemic.


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