Behind the silence of corona*

*Photos by Margi Geerlinks.

1 June until 4 October 2020

When Prime Minister Mark Rutte locks the country in an ‘intelligent’ way in mid-March, quiet and turbulent months will follow. During this period, Margi Geerlinks photographs the city of Schiedam at our request.

Emotional connection

‘She captures the sadness and uncertainty, but also beautiful moments of resilience and connection,’ says museum director Deirdre Carasso. ‘She has a strong emotional connection with the people in front of her camera.’ She previously followed Hugo Borst’s mother with dementia. A selection of those photos were on display in the museum under the title Mum.

Margi Geerlinks, Zafer Jongeren Schiedam voluntarily help to bring meals to people who are in need, 2020

Their story

During the first ‘corona weeks’ Geerlinks followed several people. These were often Schiedam residents with a vital profession, including teachers, a garbage collector and a general practitioner. She also followed care workers, a funeral director and the owner of a local shop. What is their story? How did they experience these weeks? Geerlinks took the photos between March 25 and June 1, 2020.

Importance

Sumeyra from local shop Altinbasak says: ‘At some point I had to stand in front of the store to prevent that too many people went in. (…)

I did not know that our fruit and vegetable shop would grow into something so important that I had to stop people. That was very special to experience. We are also just an important sector, we are seen! But I hope it will return to normal.’

Margi Geerlinks, Sumeyra behind the corona proof counter, Schiedam, 2020

Thank you note
The museum adds a selection of the photos to their collection. Employees spoke to the people portrayed so that we can also record the stories. Like Richard’s; he works as a garbage collector. ‘People have been happier since corona. And they scold less. There are some who even stick notes on the container with: ‘thank you’. Or they’ll come out with ice cream.’

Margi Geerlinks, Richard, garbage collector at Irado, 2020

Richard collected much more garbage. ‘Normally we have 8 tons of green waste, now during corona around 23-24 tons a day.’

Downside

The assignment brought Geerlinks in contact with ‘all those beautiful people,’ she says. ‘I saw how they care about each other and try to make something beautiful out of it. But I also noticed the downside, illness and loneliness. I lost a good friend to corona. Not because he had corona, but because he was vulnerable and couldn’t get the care he needed.’

People

Artist Margi Geerlinks owns Gallery 158 at Hoogstraat in Schiedam. Her photos are almost always about people; how they are or how they could be, thanks to her digital manipulation. Her work is regularly on display at prestigious (inter) national art fairs. She received rave reviews in The New York Times and The Guardian, among others. Individuals and museums, including Museum Voorlinden, bought her work.

Thanks to