“No Surrender” – The Story Behind the Image

"No Surrender." Hand self-portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

How I made that shot and the story behind my “No Surrender” image

Those of you reading this blog might recall some of my previous posts mentioning a new series of hand portraits and self-portraits, which is still very much a work in progress. Here’s the story behind one of the images in this series–No Surrender.

"No Surrender" A hand self-portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.
“No Surrender” A hand self-portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald. Also featured in A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine.

At the beginning of 2020, I started working on a new series of hand portraits and self-portraits. At the time I had more of an activism purpose in mind for this particular body of work, still do. But then COVID-19 happened and it reshaped, ever so slightly, the overall purpose of my hand portrait series. Its working title is “Talk with Your Hands–Gesture and Self-Expression: A Series of B&W Hand Portraits and Self-Portraits.” As part of this body of work, “No Surrender” has gone, itself, through its own transformation, in terms of story, symbolism, and, hence, title. Seen through the lens of coronavirus—and/or any chronic health conditions or diseases, such as HIV—the image speaks to the isolation and loneliness, to the despair and overwhelming hopelessness many of us feel when surrounded by this particular kind of darkness, defined by unknowns and uncertainties, insecurities, suffering and death. But this kind of darkness is not really something new, not to the long-term survivors of the AIDS pandemic. Maybe that’s why the eighties are also known as “the dark years” of that pandemic. Today, in a time of coronavirus, we can learn from these survivors, and try our best not to surrender to today’s darkness and claw our way through it and out of it.

No Surrender” was also featured in an article published in A&U Magazine–America’s AIDS Magazine

Hope you will never surrender when faced with all the obstacles life throws at you. This year, in particular, has been a trying year….

Also, hope this finds you well, and, as always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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