Social Distancing Portraits

Press Release

“It was our last yoga class, they are closing down tonight. It’s part of our community, it’s going to change. We’ll miss it. It’s surreal, you can’t believe that your life is going to be so much different, but people adapt. It’ll be interesting to see how. Things will be different when we get to the other side. Yoga is helpful to stay centered. It’s important to find those places of peace.”
– Lori and Lesley

[The art happens here]
Annka Kultys Gallery’s online platform dedicated to the showcasing of digital art in its natural habitat, so to speak.  The creation in 2020 of [The art happens here] provides a natural extension to the gallery’s offline programme which has as one of its strengths the presentation of “digital natives” or artists making art that engages with technology and the internet.

“We got some oranges and two bags of apples. We don’t do math anymore.”

“We’re just lying low, and trying not to be fearful. I think it’s going to last another 4-8 weeks. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not what you believe that matters now, it’s the collective.”
– Rowan and Andrew
“The city is empty. We were brave enough to leave the house. Went to the arcade and bowling. Bowling was empty.”
– Justin and Keenan
“I think it’s good to keep a distance so we should be careful. But maybe there is a little too much panic. I think it’s okay to do things outdoors. But when I go to stores it’s a bit scary to see people panicking. It made me anxious – too many people, empty shelves.”
– Jaya
“It’s crazy, we are getting so many phone calls, we can’t keep up. I put on hold, answer, put on hold, answer. I’m here to help. I’ve been working seven days a week. When people appreciate my work it’s all good. We have to help one another.”
– Jen
“Things have been very slow for us. Traffic is crazy, my son’s commute is empty now. I still have to pay the rent. It’s tough for everybody.”
– Daljit and Sukhjiwan
“No comment”
– Tom


Annka Kultys is pleased to present Adad Hannah’s Social Distancing Video Portraits, as the second instalment of Stay at home, the gallery’s first online exhibition presenting new digital works by artists in response to the coronavirus pandemic.  On every Sunday of the lockdown during Stay at home, a new artist will be showcased on AKG’s recently launched online platform [The art happens here].  Hannah’s work will be on show for the second week of Stay at home, following on from James Irwin’s Surface Collider (23032020) last week. 

AKG is also announcing all gallery benefits (i.e., profits after the artist has been compensated in the usual manner) from featured digital works sold via [The art happens here] will be donated to the National Emergencies Trust to assist in the fight against coronavirus.  While purchasers’ funds are generally intended to help financially support the featured artists during this unprecedented period when non-essential shops are closed (including particularly art museums and commercial galleries which lead to postponed exhibitions for artists) and ensuring at least part of artists’ incomes can be maintained, in the case of Social Distancing Video Portraits Hannah has generously elected to donate his commission to a Canadian charity helping coronavirus research.

On 14 March 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic continued to grip the world, Adad Hannah began creating his Social Distancing Video Portraits.  Comprising short, unedited videos of the people he encountered on the street, the portraits include a diverse range of individuals, families, friends, shopkeepers, students, clinic workers and even those recorded in their homes.  Each portrait has been filmed using a long lens from a distance of at least 5 metres and is accompanied by music composed by Brigitte Dajczer.  Shot on the streets in his neighbourhood in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver, and while largely containing images of strangers from afar, these works are very much portraits—intimate, unwavering and direct.

Although technically these works are short, non-narrative videos, at approximately 25 seconds in duration the works, perhaps disconcertingly, inhabit that penumbra between still and moving images.  The subjects typically try to remain static while gazing directly at the camera, creating intimate studies of the featured individuals, with the durational component of each video serving to intensify the viewer’s gaze and, ultimately, their relationship with the subject.

First presented on Instagram and Facebook, the videos are accompanied by quotes from the individuals presented, offering further insight into their thoughts and emotional states during this uncertain time.  The subjects’ concerns echo one another and often relate to financial stress, panic buying and the isolation that people face from social distancing.  Shot during the period of government mandated lockdown in Canada designed to deter the further spread of the coronavirus, the portraits serve as a powerful reminder of the ability art has to connect across physical distance.

Music composed by Brigitte Dajczer.

Adad Hannah through his short videos explores the potential of tableaux vivants (the representation of a scene, picture, etc. by a person or group in costume, posing silently without moving) in a digital world, often in collaboration with local communities. 

Adad Hannah was born in New York in 1971.  He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.  He holds a Ph.D. and an MFA from Concordia University in Montreal, and a BFA from the Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver.

Annka Kultys Gallery