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In the self-portrait "Disappear," I aim to convey the visceral reality of living amidst the persisting waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us who are medically vulnerable, those of us living with chronic and complex medical issues, every day is a delicate dance to avoid contracting the virus.

The original photograph was captured while we were on vacation in 2019. The altering of this pre-pandemic image is significant as it symbolizes the altering of the life I once had. The altering of this image with the current reality in 2024 overlays and almost blots out the life I had in 2019.

As I have disappeared from public life, I disappear behind the textures and graphics within the image. These textures and graphics not only push my image into the background but also erase much of my image. At the same time, the vibrant and cheerful rainbow colors, while seemingly celebratory, stand in stark juxtaposition to the expression on my face and the internal complexity of emotions I experience. This visual contradiction reflects the external perception that the pandemic has concluded, while my lived reality remains one of unease and erasure.

Mitigation efforts, symbolized by patterns and symbols, intricately weave through the artwork—representing the only control I have while navigating a world that often dismisses the persistent threat of COVID-19. Each potential exposure becomes a silent battleground where I strive to safeguard the autonomy and well-being of my body while facing instances of public bullying and the dismissal of my health concerns—even by medical professionals. These acts serve as tools of erasure, attempting to make me disappear into the illusion of a post-pandemic world. Outside of my home, there is no safe place for me to exist.

This piece is a raw declaration, an invitation to acknowledge the unspoken struggles of those deemed expendable, to recognize that the pandemic's impact persists for many, and to confront the violence enacted upon the autonomy of vulnerable bodies.

"Disappear" (Digital Photography + Digital Collage) © Copyright 2024 Karmen Naccarato. All Rights Reserved.


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