Stranded in their own homes: Portraits of Shanghai’s lockdown

ManChunHin, photographed remotely, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April 20th 2022
In his notes "I got infected by Covid19 while lining up to get my test done, i was taken to a quarantine camp for 10 days where i slept in a swimming pool converted to quarantine center with other 200 people. I got healed by myself since in the quarantine camp they did not give me any medicine and backed home. I just want to eat McDonald’s.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Alvin, photographed remotly, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April May 3rd 2022
In his notes "These days I bought new kitchen wear, but haven't arrived. Seems like the deliveries are resuming slowly. At least in the next half a year I don't want to eat anything that I cook myself
The floor is dirty, but looking from a new prospective the dust on the floor looks like a layer of sheer.
I can see that the weather is looking good through the window, but last night I killed a mosquito." (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Alessandro, photographed remotly, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April 29th 2022
In his notes "A spring wasted to try to defeat the nature. A week spent in quarantine in a covid19 quarantine camp. Light on 24 hours, no privacy nor shower. A lot of noise. It seems that those camping time with boys scout were a luxury time compare to that. At least we will get out determinated and with the needof restart. Maybe was something that most of us needed: a slap in the face to understand that is time to change.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Junli, photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on May 4th 2022
In her notes "The 34th day of the lockdown, I don't know how many more days I will be in lockdown. Many of my friends have left Shanghai and China, maybe I should have made a decision to go back to Xinjiang. Anyhow Shanghai will never be the same after the lockdown " 
Having a good neighbor is such a luck." (Photo by Raul Ariano)
DoLa, photographed remotely, as she looks outside the window in Shanghai, China on April 20th 2022
In her notes "Lockdown Diary, 33 days in lockdown. My feeling are rollercoastering but i try to calm down. I want to eat well and live well, tomorrow will be better.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Z.Y., photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on May 2nd 2022
In her notes "Anxious, angry, depressed, confused, puzzled, dazed and hope.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Yilei, photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on April 24th 2022
In her notes "For the first time in my entire life I have experienced a lockdown, sometimes it's better to lay back and chill. I'll just take it as a long spring break. This lockdown really reminds me of my summer vacation in the school years.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Fei, photographed remotly, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on April May 4th 2022
In her notes "34th day of lockdown, just as the saying goes: a near neighbour is better than a distant relative" 
Having a good neighbour is such a luck." (Photo by Raul Ariano)
Lee Lin Chi, photographed remotely, as she looks outside the window in Shanghai, China on April 18th 2022
In her drawing volunteers and medical stuff during the test sessions. (Photo by Raul Ariano)

Residents in Shanghai have been counting down the days until June 1, when authorities will begin lifting strict lockdown measures that have left citizens confined at home and in quarantine centers for almost two months.

China’s most populous city has become a poster child for the drawbacks of the government’s insistence on pursuing a zero-covid policy. Residents reported food shortages, struggles to get any medical help because of covid controls, and chaotic and inflexible management that have left citizens helpless, frustrated and angry.

Shanghai-based photographer, Raul Ariano, documented the experiences of some of the city’s residents by photographing friends and acquaintances remotely through video calls. Through journal entries written on scraps of paper, and even masks, they shared notes about the frustrations of living under lockdown and their dreams of a post-pandemic life. The subjects shared their stories based on the condition only their first names be used due to concerns about security in China.

[Shanghai faces mental health crisis as covid lockdown drags on]

ManChunHin, photographed remotely, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April 20th 2022
In his notes "I got infected by Covid19 while lining up to get my test done, i was taken to a quarantine camp for 10 days where i slept in a swimming pool converted to quarantine center with other 200 people. I got healed by myself since in the quarantine camp they did not give me any medicine and backed home. I just want to eat McDonald’s.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)

I got infected by covid-19 while lining up to get my test done.

I was taken to a quarantine camp for seven days, where I slept in a swimming pool converted into a quarantine center with 200 other people.

I recovered on my own after a week and was sent back home.

They did not give me even one single pill.

So far I haven’t felt any after effects.

Of course, I’m hoping the lockdown can end as soon as possible.

Because I just really, really want to eat McDonald’s!

Man Chun Hin, 26

Fei, photographed remotly, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on April May 4th 2022
In her notes "34th day of lockdown, just as the saying goes: a near neighbor is better than a distant relative" 
Having a good neighbor is such a luck." (Photo by Raul Ariano)

Thirty-fourth day of lockdown:

Just as the saying goes: “a near neighbor is better than a distant relative.” Now I finally understand what that means. Having someone who is a capable of buying for the group is such luck.

Fei, 28

Alessandro, photographed remotly, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April 29th 2022
In his notes "A spring wasted to try to defeat the nature. A week spent in quarantine in a covid19 quarantine camp. Light on 24 hours, no privacy nor shower. A lot of noise. It seems that those camping time with boys scout were a luxury time compare to that. At least we will get out determinated and with the needof restart. Maybe was something that most of us needed: a slap in the face to understand that is time to change.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)

A spring wasted to try to defeat mother nature.

A week spent in quarantine in a covid-19 isolation center.

Lights on 24 hours a day, no privacy nor shower. Too much noise.

It reminds us that camping as scouts was a luxury in comparison.

At least we will leave with determination and a desire to reconnect with living.

Maybe it was something that most of us needed: a slap in the face to understand that it is time to change.

— Alessandro, 34

Junli, photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on May 4th 2022
In her notes "The 34th day of the lockdown, I don't know how many more days I will be in lockdown. Many of my friends have left Shanghai and China, maybe I should have made a decision to go back to Xinjiang. Anyhow Shanghai will never be the same after the lockdown " 
Having a good neighbor is such a luck." (Photo by Raul Ariano)

The 34th day of the lockdown, I don’t know how many more days I will be in lockdown. Many of my friends have left Shanghai and China, maybe I should have made a decision to go back to Xinjiang, without the least bit of hesitation. Anyhow, Shanghai will never be the same after the lockdown.

Junli, 23

Alvin, photographed remotly, in his apartment in Shanghai, China on April May 3rd 2022
In his notes "These days I bought new kitchenware, but it hasn't arrived. Seems like the deliveries are resuming slowly. At least in the next half a year I don't want to eat anything that I cook myself
The floor is dirty, but looking from a new prospective the dust on the floor looks like a layer of sheer.
I can see that the weather is looking good through the window, but last night I killed a mosquito." (Photo by Raul Ariano)

The new kitchenware I ordered recently has yet to arrive. Seems like deliveries are resuming slowly. I don’t think I want to eat anything that I cook myself, at least for the next half a year.

The floor is dirty, and from some angles, the white dust on the floor looks like a layer of gauze.

The weather is looking good through the window, but last night I killed a mosquito.

— Alvin, 34

Z.Y., photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on May 2nd 2022
In her notes "Anxious, angry, depressed, confused, puzzled, dazed and hope.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)

— Z.Y., 27

DoLa, photographed remotely, as she looks outside the window in Shanghai, China on April 20th 2022
In her notes "Lockdown Diary, 33 days in lockdown. My feeling are rollercoastering but i try to calm down. I want to eat well and live well, tomorrow will be better.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)

Lockdown diary,

33 days in lockdown.

to an almost calm.

I want to eat well and live well,

tomorrow will be a better day.

DoLa, 29

Yilei, photographed remotely, in her apartment in Shanghai, China on April 24th 2022
In her notes "For the first time in my entire life I have experienced a lockdown, sometimes it's better to lay back and chill. I'll just take it as a long spring break. This lockdown really reminds me of my summer vacation in the school years.” (Photo by Raul Ariano)

For the first time in my entire life I have experienced a lockdown.

Sometimes it’s better to lay back and chill. I’ll just take it as a long spring break.

This lockdown really reminds me of summer vacation,

when I was in school.

— Yilei, 38

Lee Lin Chi, photographed remotely, as she looks outside the window in Shanghai, China on April 18th 2022
In her drawing volunteers and medical stuff during the test sessions. (Photo by Raul Ariano)

— Lee Lin Chi, 4

About this story

Editing by Olivier Laurent, Paul Schemm, Reem Akkad and Joe Moore. Design and development by Yutao Chen. Copy editing by Dorine Bethea.