GLOBAL PANDEMIC. We’ve been reading and hearing these words for more than seven months now. Sometimes the limits of human imagination are a blessing: If we actually possessed the ability to visualize the globe’s people during this crisis—the same grief and fear spread across so many different settings, cultures, languages—we might not be able to endure it.
But these international photographers’ dispatches, gathered in five different countries over 2020’s spring and summer, begin to distill the enormity and variety of the pandemic experience. Cédric Gerbehaye, his native Belgium at one point registering the world’s highest per capita COVID19 death rate, spent weeks documenting overwhelmed Belgian medical and nursing home workers. Nichole Sobecki, an American who has lived for nearly a decade in Nairobi, photographed the hustle and anxiety of her adopted city’s grapple with quarantine.
In Jordan, new resident Moises Saman explored the country’s massive population of refugees as pandemic lockdown and recession added one more hardship to their existence. An Indonesian travel ban kept Jakarta photographer Muhammad Fadli from making the annual Ramadan visit to his parents’ village; he took his cameras into the streets instead. (How the coronavirus outbreak grew from a few cases in China to a global pandemic in less than three months.)