COVET-19 Produced By HGAB Studios
On March 16th 2020 the founders of HGAB Studios, a Content Creation Center in Miami, were forced to close their doors due to the impending threat of COVID-19. As young business owners, it was a difficult choice to make, but keeping the community safe, was of the utmost importance. They canceled all their events and workshops until further notice, stopped accepting studio bookings and sent all their team members home until it was safe to come back to work.
Then came the most difficult choice of all; to abandon ship or stay and man the fort.
After a lengthy and serious meeting, like many others that had ensued over the past few days, the four founders decided to bunker down and quarantine inside their creative facility.
The plan was to renovate what they could and apply a fresh coat of paint to everything in their space until they could open their doors again. They scheduled LIVE workshops and classes to educate their audience and like many other independent businesses, they applied for small business loans, entered competitions and signed up for grants that would help them get through the unpredictable months that lay ahead.
April came sooner than expected and as the last coat of paint dried in the studio and the final grant application was submitted, the isolation slowly crept in and began to take over. The four founders decided to hold yet another meeting, but this time the creative juices were flowing.
‘It’s in our nature. It’s our industry. It’s what we do every day.” says Kendrick Vasquez CEO and Co-Founder of HGAB Studios.
“The fact that we had to close our doors and put our life and business on hold wasn’t going to stop us from being creative, so we decided to put together a photoshoot that touched upon the looming subject that was on everyone’s mind.”
For the founders of HGAB Studios, deciding to produce a photography session inspired by a pandemic that had forced them to quarantine inside their business, was a natural reaction to their unusual circumstances.
The production crew consisted of all four founders; Mariana Diaz, Christian Vivas, Biscayne Boeck and Kendrick Vasquez.
Since they had no professional models available, they used themselves.
“It was a really special project for all of us because we got to highlight the subject in a way that wasn’t being shown by the media. It was our creative outlet, but it was also a way for us to show other creatives that we have a responsibility. A responsibility to create impactful art during times of struggle and hardship.” says Boeck.
The portrait, titled COVET-19, showcases a couple locked in a passionate embrace. They attempt to kiss but their act of affection is obstructed by the medical face masks that have become indicative of an area affected by coronavirus. The lack of proper N-95 masks on the subjects is in itself a statement of insufficient medical supplies within our healthcare system. The lighting in the photograph is cold and resembles that of a hospital. The harsh reference to René Magritte’s painting ‘The Lovers’, references the frustrated desires and isolation of the piece.
The team of four, accurately titled the image COVET-19, because the word ‘covet’ means to yearn to possess or have something. The irony of the title touches on the fact that any social activity or act of intimacy must now be carefully monitored, if not completely eliminated. In this image we are forced to face a bitter truth, a world that was so quickly going digital and distancing themselves from each other, is now desperately yearning for that intimacy which we so often took for granted.
“From this, we hope to inspire others to create art that represents their experience inside the pandemic. We want to make sure to document this moment in history so that we may learn from it and come out stronger on the other end.”