Artists in Quarantine
The End of the Lock Down
Here in Germany we are nearing the gradual end of lock-down while in other countries the quarantine persists. Galleries and museums will start reopening soon, offering an almost uncanny experience of materiality after months of consuming not only art, but most cultural products, online.
These artists realise that after the quarantine, our future remains unclear and the feelings of unease that accompanied us within our present four walls are here to stay. Some of these works develop a new virtual way of communication, of reaching out, of caring for your close ones and of expressing solidarity. Some question the imperative of constant productivity by proposing an ethics of non-doing, of laziness, of withdrawal, finding slight solace in quotidian, nondescript activities. Other artists ask: Can the desire to escape producing ever really be accomplished? There are artworks that react to new safety uniforms that we have all grown so accustomed to, while others produce a specific kind of observational aesthetics, noticing the previously neglected everyday phenomena: the noise coming from the outside indeed sounds different when we are made to stay indoors... -Sebastjan Brank
Alicja Wysocka [Alfa Omegi] ~
Relax Revolution Movement 2019 - ongoing
Relaxation as Resistance
Working on alternative economy
Relaxing and proper taxing
Make love not art
3 x T : Touch Touch Touch
Pay your debt to the Mother Earth
launching Relax fb group
lectures & performances
themed film screenings
going to thermal bathhouses
hiking, bike trips, hand and face self massage workshops
hand writing letters to friends & family
gardening and herb workshops
bread making and pickles workshops
and more to come...
Not all the layers of anxiety COVID-19 brings came as surprise.
As a whole they simply add up to the endurance my family and I are already going through. When the pandemic arrived in Germany, one of my strongest emotional responses was relief. For one moment, it finally wasn’t strange anymore for Asian-identified people to wear masks in the public (a short-lived relief, seeing what continues to haunt the communities). But for the most part, that COVID-19 disrupts the activities of the immigration office and the art world has put the pace of productivity imposed by them on halt.
Though I know the nature of this pressure is spectral, transforming your self-emancipatory rejection into action remains impossible without the actual improvement of the circumstance, and the long process of forgiving yourself, your family, your past. It’s not to say I’m not enraged and deeply saddened by how the situation affects the global poor, the homeless, the refugees, the precarious workers and minorities worldwide. But whenever someone starts a conversation with ‘what a strange and crazy time’ (I hear this mostly from the global middle class, and white), I hear myself saying ‘yes, strange that we now seem to be on the same boat in the same time’.
It was only March and I already found myself trying to re-organize life for the third time this year. The outbreak got me with a group show cancellation, the conversation of a potential job discontinued, and band rehearsals further postponed, among others. I began the isolation period looking forward to having time for my own practice, which I had imagined to be a healing process. But work still hasn’t escaped me; I barely have time for self-employed art labour between my part-time as essential worker, working for my family’s food business, and the leisure I need but hardly allowed before. To begin with, the wish to continue working on my practice is imbued with self-optimisation ideology, the cost of courageously refusing which is depression. It’s beautiful how voice is intimately bound to the state of your psyche that to be productive as a voice artist now is just utter bullshit. Once I put my voice to work, I lost most of its strength and speaking was heavy as all words got stuck, weighing chest and felt like nothing at all. So lately has been about courageously reminding myself of the relief in having way less to do at once. I think I’m just uneasy about something: as many withdraw from productivity by returning to their music instruments or painting, how can artists genuinely withdraw and to what could they return, without being nudged by the necessity to turn it into a quarantine art project? Even cooking and video-calling parents are subject to it….
The impact of this crisis feels to me like the repetition of an existing melody, nuanced with a new variation. Just another song in the miserable playlist, an extension of whatever is already there (including working from home….) I know how home isolation sounds like a song. It’s less of something I can translate musically than the fact my body has reactions to this soundscape, which I don’t control and can’t reason with. The trigger is the window, a filter and a listening point that generates its own characteristics of ‘outside sounds’; the exterior world as heard from the interior. However, the time of pandemic has its own window song. In my neighbourhood in Kassel, Germany, located near to the city centre, bird sounds are echoing more intensely throughout the day. Vehicles are heard less while neighbours, flatmates, passers-by and electronics are louder whenever it doesn’t sound just like any other German Sunday. At such time when city centers are quieter, home must be where the noises are most.
deferrals – fragments from a conversation with Emanuela Ascari between March 6 and April 4, 2020
i continuously think about the mail i want to write to you – sorry it took me so long again… the radio constantly plays in the background –as almost always by the way– and i wonder how repetitive it all sounds. how is it possible that the most present voices all seem to share the very same position that this current crisis can be understood as being different and completely detached from all the other crises this sociopolitical and economic system continues to endlessly produce? it troubles me to think about borders and what this crisis might imply for their deadly reality – their justification and violence. even spring seems to be part of these contradictions, i am hardly able to grasp – this spring is so beautiful outside my window. and at the same time, with a similar surprise, i continue listening to the news anchor in the background of my room, whose voice maintains this theatre of objectivity. it scares me that we are so far away from our family in bucharest, but at the same time i am happy to know them all together…
last week we spent some nights thinking about the images you’ve sent of the tiny interventions we left behind in your house last summer and here we are finally sending you an idea for a response )) we circled around the minuscule moments in which the meaning remains graspable only in its movement between words; and the way sense jumps between the images and our mails staggered us – they seem to weave a commentary on just this moment in time.
i very much hope you are fine; how do you resist?
many kisses, a&m
Привет) мы придумали антисептический театр. Начали делать что-то. Но понятно, что он пока далек от того,что принято называть технологиями, поскольку ничего нет из того, что нужно. Но мы подумали, что это пофиг, есть все равно какие-то тряпки, комп, ароматические компоненты. Пока сделали несколько шлемов и запахов (их непонятно как показать). Завели инстаграм для него. Рух Зильберштерн . Инстаграм не должен быть похож на то, что мы обычно делаем. Скорее на домашний цирк. Планируем сталкерскую вылазку вскорости. Попробуем что-то сфоткать и если получится пришлем. Посмотрим что за вылазка получится. Запахи на спирту это раз. И надо что-нибудь сжечь это два) хотим еще как-то попробовать их собрать, чтобы "перенести" в следующий перфоманс. Чтобы они связывались друг с другом и как бы переходили один в другой через какие-то элементы.
У нас до 10го жесткие гонения властей. Мы выбираемся совсем ночью теперь огородами. Но интересно. Город изменился. Утки перестали бояться людей. Почему-то много дохлых голубей, полиции, скорых, уборочных машин и катафалков. Раньше мы не видели катафалков.
Artists in Quarantine is an online feature from AWC. This piece was collected to Paul Sochacki, and introduced by Sebastjan Brank