Pandemaniac by Michael Moreno queers common motifs of Covid-19 as a means to explore mental health under lockdown.
Navigating a space between autobiography, art therapy and performance: the experiences shown in the photographs – Zooming, having a lockdown birthday, taking up a hobby, and so on – are the artist’s lived experiences and the person we see is them, but all is processed and filtered through a heightened and distorted lens. This relates to Freud’s idea of the ‘half mask’ worn by the true-self as a defence response to present threat, and behind which we can more safely act out our fears.
Juxtaposing rich colour and texture with an uneasy subject matter, Pandemaniac references fashion and product photography, while always falling short of its promise of perfection. In doing so the series both satirises the absurd futility of consumer capitalism in this time of crises, and taps into a visual discourse pre-loaded with triggers of desire, disaffection, and anxiety.
By turns playful and unsettling, the series reflects on lockdown and the broader themes it raises: fear, longing, our relationship to food, superstition, mental health, and the human need to connect.