The Locks of Lockdown

Claudio Ahlers
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The Locks of Lockdown is a photographic meditation on isolation. With my fine art photography series entitled The Locks of Lockdown, I am attempting to express the multitude of feelings, and at times raw emotions people around the world lived through during the many long months of lockdown over the past 12 months. I hope these photographs can express aspects of this extraordinary experience of our lifetime in deeply felt and meaningful ways. An experience that touched us profoundly in so many ways, where stasis permeated everyone's lives and where time itself had turned its tide and was now flowing through us instead of us through it. And yet, in slowness, there is growth. And while many aspects of the isolation that were forced upon us were frustrating, frightening and at times tragic, others opened up space for a different, more introspective experience. One that gave room for self-reflection, re-evaluation and changing awareness of ourselves, of others and of the world around us. As lockdown seemed to never want to come to an end, the hair we had grown while in isolation became an ever heavier burden on our shoulders. What has long been a ritual of renewal for people around the world - the haircut - became more and more significant, symbolizing freedom regained and the release of all that had accumulated within ourselves, was now locked up inside of us and had been written into every inch of the hair we had grown in this time. For his series of photographs, I embalmed a male nude model with hair collected at a men's barbers in the two weeks after the first lockdown had ended in the summer of 2020. Now carrying the burdenous hair on behalf of the people who shed them, I am hoping that this figure embodies a fundamental humanity, primeval and raw, brittle even, challenged to the core. And yet he stands as a testament to the resilience, tenderness, introspection and defiance that has carried us through lockdown, to the door of the barbershop, into the barber's chair where we to let ourselves be transformed to then finally emerge as changed people as we leave through the shop door to embrace an unwritten future. Three images from the series will be on show at Galerie Huit at this year's Open Walls Arles as part of the wider programme for Les Recontres d'Arles 2021. My work is represented by Galerie 15, Cochem, Germany and ArtPistol Glasgow, Scottland.

My name is Claudio Ahlers, and I am a fine art and portrait photographer based in Bristol, UK. In my practise, I am interested in exploring emotional landscapes and states of mind through considered portraiture and artful photographs of the human body as an expression of our innermost workings. My work has been shown in group exhibitions internationally in New York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Edinburgh and Moscow and at solo exhibitions in Bath and Bristol in the UK. I have received numerous awards at internationally recognized photography contests, and three of my photographs will be shown at Open Walls Arles 2021, a part of Les Rencontres d'Arles 2021. Originally from Hamburg, Germany, I now live and work in Bristol, England.
Claudio Ahlers
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