When the City Went to Sleephttps://i1.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/am05.jpg?fit=1920%2C1281&ssl=119201281Ali MotamediAli Motamedihttps://i2.wp.com/barrenmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Ali-Motamedi.png?fit=90%2C96&ssl=1
It was winter of 2020 when I moved into a new apartment in Manhattan. One month later, news from overseas brought an unknown virus: COVID-19 was spreading everywhere. Soon, the stores, restaurants, and museums were closed. The shadows of fear and loneliness were everywhere. The city that never sleeps was finally asleep.
Weeks passed, and I was trapped in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan. I tracked the number of dead in the news, and I heard that some stores were being looted and some types of food were not available anymore. New York looked like a different city to me. After a few weeks of living in lockdown, an inner force asked me to go out, a curiosity mixed with anxiety. I had more free time to walk in the evening and at night, so I started walking in the streets I used to know for many years. From Grand Central Terminal to park benches in my neighborhood, from local coffee shops to Central Park and streets nearby, I roamed and tried to get to know the place where I was living.
I started the project in March 2020 and continued it until the end of the year.
Ali Motamedi is an Iranian-American writer and photographer whose work focuses on city life, travel, immigration, and self-identity. His essays and short stories have been published in Farsi and English literary magazines, and his photography has been displayed in several group exhibitions in both Tehran and the US. He has a PhD in civil engineering and has studied at the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography in New York City. He has contributed as a photographer to several organizations and agencies including Red Cross America and ACAW.