“Dusk, and the first time you go outside after such a long period inside, you experience a lot of mixed feelings. It could be a bit worrying at first, and paranoia was close at hand. You know there is the risk of catching this thing, so you stay away from people,” explain Elliot and Louis, the founders of Antilope and directors of this series. Indeed, the suspicious, sceptical looks we gave to others the first days of lockdown were driven by an irrational fear fed by mass media and social media alike. “The fear is legitimate but is mainly driven by the media. Social media has been a bit intense lately, and the best way to not get influenced is to avoid spending so much time following them.”
The small team behind the series, which made an extra effort to make the project come to life, got over the paranoia quite fast though. “Personally, we got over the fear quite quickly,” they explain. “Our DOP contracted the Covid-19, and despite it being so close to us, we didn’t get it, luckily.” By following the safety measures at all times – the social distancing, the masks, etc., – they were able to shoot all three videos without a problem.
As the directors explain, despite the generalized paranoia, masks were an issue to deal with for German society. “Nobody was wearing masks here compared to Asia and Italy,” explain Elliot and Louis. “It was actually seen as quite offensive to wear on the tube, and everybody was looking at you in the wrong way.” That was, of course, at first, when we were still wondering what was really going on in the world. “This object is loaded with mega ambivalence. The mask was generally reserved for the medical world and scared the public. We use a mask to hide one’s face, to rob a bank, or for Halloween.”
Indeed, European countries and societies weren’t as used to using surgical (or non-surgical) masks on the street as Asians, for example. In China, Japan or Korea, masks are everywhere and even considered a fashionable accessory for some. For us, “the fact that you only see each other’s eye… it can get sketchy in small places like the tube, where lights dimmer down and everything gets more and more claustrophobic, and your heartbeat increases,” the directors explain. “Like dusk, when everything shifts into twilight, gloomy and more obscure. Behind the masks hides a true feeling of being apart and a certain sense of loneliness.”
So with this video, reflecting on the generalized state of paranoia and fear of others, Elliot and Louis aimed to “make people realize that a mask can be part of our culture too” because they “thought we had to act and make a positive change.” Despite some first prejudices and concern, naturally masks are now obligatory in public spaces in Berlin – and elsewhere. Now seeing this phase with some perspective, we understand how easy it is for fear to grab hold of us.