I am a curator at a museum in New York City. Currently, the museum is temporarily closed with no clear information on when and how reopening will be possible. My position has been furloughed since March, along with 98% of the staff. When reopening happens at reduced capacity, I immagine it will be very hard to make enough to pay a full staff, so everyone will be wearing "more than one hat," even more so than before. There will most likely be extensions on current exhibitions that were shuttered due to Covid 19 and new shows will be postponed and on even tighter budgets. There might be pressure to have more "money making" shows that are less risk taking. There will probably be more preassure than ever before in this highly competative field, as well as increased tensions within institutions fighting to survivie.
In terms of my practice, I've had to adjust like everyone else. My shooting tends to favor NYC's density in the tradition of street photographers and filmmakers like Robert Frank and Helen Levitt. How do you capture the pulse of the street when it's empty? How do you show the void; is it possible to communicate LACK? I've been recording sounds in Brooklyn; the birds are out, I can hear the BQE from 6 blocks away, some reggae music from a car stereo down the street like a faint whisper. Looking at small moments, considering my bedroom and my block as shooting studios. I'm free to go down rabbit holes; areas of ambient research that would have been considered a waste of time a few months back. I'm more thankful for (online) community these days. It reminds me of 30 years ago, before everyone had her own editing system when we NEEDED umbrella film organizations (I formed bonds at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco and in NYC the Association of Independent Video and Film) for workshops, equipment rentals, screenings, etc. They went under as production became more atomized with digital technology. Everyone in their own silo, looking at their own screen. Now we're in our pods, but I feel a greater need to connect. I see forward thinking in some screening organizations who are pivoting to online screenings in new and inventive ways (Filmmaker's Coop and Maysles Documentary Center stand out in my mind). However I see very little change in the culture of film festivals. None are talking about being more respectful of filmmakers, or moving away from the expensive and competitive ethos that defines them. They charge huge entry fees (at least North American festivals do) and are not having actual festivals, but there's very little talk about changing the paradigm to be more inclusive. "Thanks for your entry (and entry fee). We don't know when we'll be having a festival, or if we'll be having a festival. Stay tuned." Why not make the whole festival landscape a much different, democratized space. Who cares about awards; 'best of' or the chosen versus the excluded in this time. Where is the utopian thinking? I don't know of one film festival that has changed their way of thinking other than to put films online rather than show them theatrically. —Mark Street
When everything started I was shocked. I couldn't understand why we (my community of friends and family) didn't immediately decide to go through this experience together. To create larger groups of people that would share their daily life and take together the risk of sickness. Thankfully after the first 10 days, this happened. We formed bigger groups that we would often meet, take care of each other and mostly support whoever at any moment was about to loose patient and get overwhelmed by the situation. Practically, most of us- stopped working and some of us got the governmental support. We managed. Personally, as an artist, even if I was lucky to have no big cancellations, it was impossible for more than a month to be creative; to deal with what was happening and to come with ideas that would suggest a possible understanding of the present or the future. At the same time, the only thing i could do is to play with clay, do infinite exercises on ceramics and as everybody cook. A moment that came to unblock myself was when gradually workers from the art field start to get organized and to open discussions around labor rights in the field and the needs of all type of art practitioners. For the first time there was a hint that "solidarity" it's not only a term to be discussed theoretically or an exhibition theme. Therefor, for the arts the only possible future I choose to imagine is that of true collaboration, recognition of interdependence among the community and collective efforts on politicizing the "job".
The whole pandemic episode the World is experiencing at the moment has brought many bad things, but it would be wrong to expose just those. We could say it has changed the way of life, at least temporarily. On one hand families living together are much closer compared to pre-COVID times. On the other hand, a larger extent of our real social relations has been constrained to online "calls" where no real eye-to-eye contact is established and where no touch is initiated. Time schedules of every single person has changed, and regular time slots like "work", "family", "friends", "fun" have melted and created a fuzzy undefined molasses called "awake time" or "online time".
The COVID experience is very subjective since many people establish relations in so many different ways. New ventures and work opportunities are still being created, but mostly through known (existing) social networks.
The future of arts and culture after COVID are bright. They will flourish since people are void of content established through social interaction. A great opportunity after COVID for cultural institutions of primary art-object-exhibiting types (museums, galleries, libraries) is to even further widen their aspect of live events. On the other hand, an opportunity for the cultural institutions of primary event types (theathers, cinemas, concert halls and organizers) is to take experiences from COVID and adapt to new technologies and partly try to work "online". There are some good examples of live theather broadcasts.
I think that position of art wil not change, like before it will firmly hold 37th place on the eternal top list of importance. —Boris Greiner
I work at the BLOK, a curatorial collective formally organised as an NGO. The latter implies that we are dependent on project financing. After the lockdown was declared, and the first shock of the earthquake that hit Zagreb has passed, we have decided to transfer all the programs on-line. No matter the declared concerns by the founders, it was pretty clear that adopting to the 'new normal' will mean losing projects and their financies. So, it was not a choice, it was a necessity.
Working on-line is still very demanding, it takes a lot of effort, in many aspects it is still much more exhausting than doing the same (if it really is the same thing) alive. It requires more concentration while listening and more exertion while speaking (e.g., you have to speak louder). It requires your own office space at home and more advanced devices, better internet connection, better chair... all these costs sudenly turn to become - private. It requires more work to pripare a framework for many programs anew, to learn new softwares, new skills... all this work again is not being recognized as additional work and therefore is not paid. So, it's not just that the crisis has exposed poor working conditions in the field for too many of us, it even made them poorer. According to the first moves and statements of the political elites, nothing good is to expect in the near future.
The collective action is needed as never before (in my lifetime). I have joined the platform Za K.R.U.H. (literally "for bread", but also for much more)* which brings together artists and cultural workers. It is still a rather small formation, but a very important struggle which does not isolate problems of the cultural workers from the society – it is part of the wider struggle for a different world.
*The website is all in Croatian, just the first Appeal has been translated into English: https://zakruh.wordpress.com/appeal/
I am a freelance documentary filmmaker. My projects are funded through croatian film funding agencies like Croatian audiovisual center (HAVC). During this pandemic period I have managed to produce some projects without funding and luckily they have been recognized, although not supported financially. For example I shot a short documentary "Person" during quarantine period on an island Murter where I escaped with my parents after a massive earthquaqe in Zagreb in which my apartment was partly destroyed. The film has entered the competition of Corona short film festival among 1280 submitted movies. As I have all the equipment to make documentaries all alone as "one man band" I hope I will continue to make such work in the future. As for my veterinary job, right now I'm operating as a freelance vet, investing my own money and resources to help feral cats in Zagreb and on some of the Croatian islands, organizing trap - neuter - return projects. In that part, the financial support also lacks. The conclusion is that actually the pandemic situation and the earthquaqe influenced my work in positive ways, as it gave me a chance to make some new films, develop new ideas and also my veterinary actions also haven't ceased. A financial support from croatian authorities for three months that I applied for and received helped me to continue my work. After that period I will have to think how to financially support my projects. For now I feel well adapted and somehow still don't fear my future as I have my inner creative infrastructure well developed from before the period of pandemic.
—Sunčica Ana Veldić
The lockdown happened while I was in post-production of a newly commissioned work, and the project is now postponed to next year, it might be canceled. My partner lost his job in the first week of the lockdown. I am employed in a public cultural institution and luckily I could keep my job. In the middle of this new anxious reality, my grandfather passed away and we couldn't see him in the hospital or attend the funeral due to the epidemic. I experienced the situation by feeling numb, also because in Slovenia almost simultaneously a right-wing government was installed. The concern was not only the health crisis but even more the political one. I escaped this acute state of melancholy by walking in nature, every day for several hours. It became a useful routine, that I would like to sustain but I doubt it will be possible after the lockdown, although I would wish for a more simple way of living. The state of culture concerns me, at the moment I can not imagine the scale of economic crisis following Covid – 19, and I naively hope it won't be yet another boring and repetitive scenario of culture being the last priority of the political agenda. I sincerely doubt that the already extremely precarious working conditions under which we work can be resilient enough for yet another blow of financial cuts. —Maja Hodošček
After having my exhibition close a week after it opened, it became difficult to talk about it especially in the middle of the Covid mayhem acroos the globe. Many of my colleagues were laid off work and in a situation like this it seemed wrong to promote the exhibition virtually. Some of my poetry performances were cancelled while other projects took a different shape. This meant that the manner in which work had to be completed changed medium, time taken to complete it and all human interaction had to be substituted with a set of instructions. My parents live in another country and the impossibility of going to see them if they fall ill is something I am struggling to comprehend. Amidst back up plans, saving money and trying to do every paid or unpaid job that comes through is something I am having difficulty coping with. But as Ashoke Ganguly in The Namesake says, 'Everyday has been a gift' is something I remember considering that I have a home, food to eat, clothes to wear and a supportive partner. —Vidha Saumya
When the lock-down started I was caught in between projects so I didn't suddenly lost work or left with a lot of work to do at home. In that sense I was lucky as I didn't felt any work related pressure and I could prioritize to take care of the 5 year old. By the time I started to do some projects, we already got used to lock-down routine, and my husband and me are managing to juggle working hours and other activities. What worries me about the future has to do with economic uncertainty. At this point I can't imagine the scale of economic consequences for the field of the culture. All the work I currently do has to do with projects that already got funded, while there is a big question how will things look in half a year or a year. I could imagine, as culture is never a priority in the time of crisis, that it could be very difficult for already precarious workers in culture. However, there have been some initiatives of solidarity organized by different organizations and individuals in Slovenia and Croatia and they are doing very important task of informing the public but also putting a pressure on the decision making bodies. This gives me a glimpse of hope that workers in culture won't be left behind. —Irena Boric
As our work is highly connected with tight communication with people (educational program) and live performances (public screenings), general work of restart is highly disturbed. In terms of Dokukino and theatrical distribution, we moved part of the program on the online VOD platform, educational programs are currently completely stopped and envisaged productions are postponed. Stay-at-home politics and closed borders affected my regular programming/distribution job as most of the currating program and communication I'm doing through Skype, not on the spot as nternational festivals I'm visiting in spring are happening online. This brought reorganisation in terms of exhibitioning jobs, made me focus more on the online content, but also being aware that pandemic will certainly bring econominc recession where culture will be damaged for sure in terms of less public funds, smaller screening fees and defeatism, I entered in the whirpool of rethinking my future preoccupation in all sectors I'm doing through Restart. In the same time, great people I'm sorrounded with, kept high spirit and grudge, that gives hope that we would be able to come out of this ready, with maybe slightly changed programs, but still on. It basically gave us some time to think and prepare the things we wouldn't be doing, like inventing new projects, finding new partners, applying to different funds. Family life is OK, thanx for asking. :) Except being too much at home, relations are, luckily, not disturbed. Arts and culture will be certainly affected with lack of public budgets in whole Europe, so some of our actions might be closed or postponed and our energy focused on more sustainable programs, at least for some time. The most horrendous part is that a lot of cultural and artistic initiatives will need to turn to 'market oriented culture' in order to survive (payed educational programs, higher prices of tickets...) or will completely dissapear. Lack of free and cheap programs will keep people with less money out of cultural circuits. I'm afraid part of the culture and art programs will lose this sharing and solidarity moment that is important item of every cultural process. What might be good option in survival process is and optional opportunity to create more tight cooperative networks among different cultural stakeholders. In all this bleakness, there need to be some option to make us grow further within the circumstances.
To be completely honest, I really did enjoy first few weeks of isolation. Finally I had time to learn new things, to read, to cook, to clean, to listen my fav radio very laud; to do everyday things that I usually do not have time for, while freelancing 24-7 in a culture sector. I never realised how much time I could spend lying in a bed. And since I am a part of collective, small break from seeing people, also did me good, I realised how much I love people I am surounded with. What struck me more was an earthquake during Covid-19 isolation. All these situations made me realize how fragile everything is, how nothing is under our control, there is no safe place, not even home. Existential questions will never end for us born in this country. My friends and family were there, maybe it even made us closer. Work became something secondary, life became more important, so CHCHCHCHANGE is the word. That word describes most how I see the future of work. Work will take any possible shape to survive. Going viral or not, art will survive. But changes need to be made. The idea is not going back to normality as it was, rather to embrace different new future and leave past behind!
p.s. u prilogu dodajem album Igora Savina koji se zove Childhood,
za mene on simbolizira buđenje —Nina Bačun
On a personal level, I've been staying at home since mid-March, with only a couple of trips to work. No problem there, I’ve actually worked more and harder this period than I did before. I’m blessed with a nice house and a large garden, so in-between zooming and skyping and reading and commenting on Facebook, I’ve done a lot of gardening; my former let-nature-do his-thing jungle garden being transformed in a more insect friendly, more biodiverse semi-natural set up. My personal log in these days is a weekly Corona Gardening Show on Facebook, tracking the blooming of spring in my garden. Never before did I so consciously watch spring unfolds. An experience I’m already grateful for. I have found out that gardening also works well for other people, even if it is just a small balcony garden.
As far as the corona crisis goes, I try to follow the development, but not too closely. In the beginning of the lock-down I tried to educate people that just did not seem to understand the mathematics of statistics and probability. But there is no fighting paranoia, so I gave up on that and relaxed.
On a professional level things accelerated instead of coming to a standstill. I am part of Stad in de Maak / City in the Making, an organization that was born out of the financial crisis and works on occupying and re-programming empty property in the city. We basically use the property for unconventional combinations of living and working (think squatting 2.0) and communing. Our last project is a full street of 52 apartments that we have occupied (with consent of the owner) with ‘urban nomads (artists, former home-less, expats, etcetera; anyone who moves around in the city from place to place) since last summer and that we can use until demolition (probably next year). At the beginning of the corona crisis this bunch of misfits had formed into a well-knit community.
And when lock down hit, this community seemed to be very resilient and able to quickly shift to the new reality; a foodbank delivering food and anti-septic soap was set up within a couple of weeks, currently serving about 100 people in the neighbourhood (mostly elderly and single person households); a Care group takes care of the needs of the community itself (calling regularly if all is well, an apartment was emptied and is now used as a quarantine house for people needing to self-quarantine for two weeks (or need to move temporarily because there is an infection close to them), a corona radio station was set up and of course there is balcony singing, Zoom-raves etcetera.
Meanwhile we had already started to work on a big street-opera which will tell the story of the street (the project is called Pension Almonde ,/ Boarding house Almonde) and of urban renewal in general. It will be very much a Brecht/Weil theatrical thing involving the current people living in the street and with the street itself as a stage and backdrop. Work on that did not stop, but continued as well; songs and script was written and discussed; costume making has started erc. The premiere was planned for the end of June, this is now prohibited in the Netherlands, so we are now waiting for the moment that gatherings of more than a couple of hundred people are allowed, and to be the first theatrical program after corona.
To conclude, we hope to carry this accelerated community feeling into the future. We’ve always joked that we as an organization seem the be fed by a good, deep crisis. It seems now really to be the case (although there is fear and paranoia too among some of us). Which is not to say that we hope for a continuous crisis from now on, but that we are confident that we will be ready to tackle the real troubles ahead: climate change, loss of biodiversity and (locally) the housing crisis.
Los primeros días me recuerdo como un ratoncito que daba vueltas por la casa y el estudio (por suerte, lo tengo en casa) algo desconcertada. Justo acaba de recoger una exposición y no tenía ningún proyecto empezado que me hiciera trabajar por inercia. Me dediqué entonces a lo más manual que se me vino a las manos: recortar telas, coserlas componiendo, utilizar los estampados como un paleta... dejarme llevar por las texturas y los colores, lo directo y concreto. Así creció una especie de patchwork, que dibujo una reja de flores, de primavera encerrada. —Rocio Arregui-Pradas
A small room has become my study. In it, I give online classes, edit my photographs and create my paintings.The future is uncertain, without exhibition rooms and group events it is possible that this work will take many years to be seen. The sizes of the paintings have been reduced, the human contact too. Individualism seems to triumph in a context of global struggle. These are contradictory times.
—Alfonso da Silva
The situation with the Corona Virus came very suddenly, although I knew very well that something big was happening in China. Then this situation came close to our state (Austria), in Italy. After the measures taken by the Austrian government to stay at home, it was a very difficult and strange week spiritually and mentally. Although my work as a lecturer at the Art University could easily go virtually on, I was not able to manage my thoughts about what would happen and how it would all turn out. I was reading news with different origins and I was trying to draw parallels between the cases, but it was not possible. We were still at the beginning of the situation. In the second week, then, a working atmosphere entered in our house: my daughter was doing homework and artworks, while my husband and I were working. It was allowed to go out if needed and we were obliged to go out with our dog. My work continued on all sides - whether in lectures, calls with artists and art institutions about concepts for exhibitions that I was developing. I even found inspiration to create new works of art every evening. However, the next two weeks became more difficult after my laptop, which had been in use for 6 years, was damaged and didn't work any more! Maybe because of the excessive cleaning at this time?! This is where the difficulties of this period began, for example, I had to combine with my partner to teach, email and write. I also used the tablet or phone for this issue. Last week these came to an end. The computer was repaired and now I was able to continue more or less concentrated to work. I think that after the corona everything will change starting from the teaching at the universities, respectively at the art universities. Since I have only foreign students at the University where I work, who come specifically to conduct this unique study, I think that in the future the opportunity to study online will still be offered. Then, as far as cultural institutions such as museums or galleries are concerned, I think that the lack of tourists will leave big traces in these spaces, especially in the bigger ones. Also, due to scientific congresses and international art festivals will be differently in the future, due to the restriction of travel, namely flights. In the interdisciplinary fields of art where the artist can not work independently, there can also be a kind of stagnation. I hope, however, that creativity in the given conditions will still be expressed in different forms and despite the changes the future brings new ways of solutions.
My husband is an adjunct, and I am a freelance cultural worker, so during the pandemic nothing really changed for us, except we couldn't take our daily long walks with our daughter anymore. Some things have in fact even improved. Planning the food supply in advance helped us to organize better in terms of cooking, significantly shortening the decision-making processes. We got to know our neighborhood better because we needed to find alternative walking paths while spending time outside. We no longer spend unnecessary money on sitting in caffees, and use the parks more, which is a practice we plan to continue. When it comes to our future, from our precarious position, it was always uncertain. Although we expect a lack of funding for independent projects, I believe this almost-total switch to online culture might bring some positive changes and shift the balance of powers in the cultural sector.
Desde bien pequeña me fueron introdujendo subliminalmente la idea de que lo importante en la vida era aprobar y sacar buenas notas en asignaturas como matemáticas, física, química, geografía e historia. Da igual lo buena que fueses en dibujo, música o educación física, que si suspendias alguna de las anteriores mencionadas se preocupaban por tu situación, como si ser buena y disfrutar de asignaturas creativas fuese a ser motivo de fracaso en la vida... Ahora con el confinamiento y la situación actual vemos muchas personas en tod el mundo que se han aferrado a hacer ejercicio en casa, dibujar, pintar, crear música y un sin fin de ocurrencias creativas para mantenerse positivos y activos durante esta dura etapa. Tomandomelo con humor la verdad es que todavía no he visto a nadie haciendo raíces cuadradas y resoviendo polinomios para no volverse loco encerrado en casa. Qué lección para todas aquellas personas que opinan que el arte no es algo de primera necesidad, que no pasa nada si no hay dinero ni subvenciones para actividades culturales, que es natural que tu hijo oiga desde pequeño que carreras como bellas artes o arte dramático no tienen salida, que no se puede vivir del arte, que primero los números, lo racional y ya si te quedan ganas tras hacer actividades "importantes y serias" brindes migajas de tu tiempo al arte y la cultura. Espero que tras esto la gente entienda y nos apoye a todas aquellas personas que conformamos humildemente el panorama actual y futuro del país. —Inés Manzano Mañero
Todo tembló bajo mis pies aquella mañana, que teníamos que despedirnos de los adolescentes de manera atropellada, recopilando material para quince días. Los días siguientes fueron una carrera en busca de alimentos para las innumerables familias que se quedaban sin recursos. Trabajo en el barrio considerado el más pobre de España. Desde mi asignatura me permito movilizar el tejido asociativo y sembrar la semillita de la transformación a través del arte. He tenido que reinventarme, ¿cómo hacer llegar recursos artísticos a los que carecen de recursos?. Falta de ordenadores, tablets, wifi...
Lo primero que hice fue crear un instagram con la cuenta pajarosquedibujan, y fue lo que me permitió llegar a la gran mayoría.
En estos momentos estoy trabajando con ellos desde lo terapeútico del arte. Una vez más durante la pandemia se ha reafirmado el poder que tiene la cultura, ha sido nuestro bálsamo, nuestro flotador, nos ha permitido volar en tiempos de reclusión. He creado durante toda la cuarentena ,me he procurado un espacio propio , he dibujado, escrito todos los días, sitiéndome viva y soltando todo lo que me perturbaba. Cuando pienso en el futuro lo veo incierto, pero me agarro una vez más a la capacidad que tiene el arte para transformar y confío en que podamos seguir construyendo un mundo diferente, un mundo mejor.
Like many in the cultural field I feel like our lives and work will be forever changed. My partner said just as the pandemic began to take hold "well that's our nice lives gone." I thought he was overly pessimistic at the time but now I fear that many of the things that we have struggled to keep hold of, the "nice" things that have made late capitalism bearable; cafes, libraries, swimming pools, community and arts venues, and indeed the small amounts of funding available for the arts will be the first things to go in the UK, where under our government austerity 2.0 will no doubt be enforced...
During lockdown we have moved into my partner's mother's house. She is recently bereaved, not at risk and has a house with a garden which we thought was a better option for our two kids than a our flat when we both have to work at home. I have mainly become a full-time mum since lockdown because my partner who is a web developer has had more urgent and quantity of work than me. I never took much time off even when my kids were little babies so this is an alien state for me and I have to learn how to be all of my child's carers rolled into one. Of course I no longer have access to my studio and several projects are now impossible given my practice is performance for live audiences and participants, so this feels like a break of sorts, but not with any space for reflection! Living life in the present and through meme cycles... —Shona Macnaughton
Critical theorists have been shouting ‘PRECARITY!’ in the faces of anyone who would hear them for years. We know the story by now. Or, so we thought. It is only now, in the Corona-lockdown, that many of us really feel what precarity is, beyond an ever-looming feeling of being on the edge: once crisis sets in, the precarious are the first to be hit. Structures of social security are shaken and dissolve. What follows is economic free-fall.
In the Netherlands, the government provides freelancers, including those in the cultural sector, with something of a basic income during these months. This is, however, not enough of most artists to live of off, let alone to pay for studio rent and material costs. And even if it is, the long-term effects are unclear. What happens to the young artists, whose precious exhibitions and other jobs are cancelled? What about the freelance teachers, whose lessons at academies have been canceled once of a sudden? What will happen when artists can't afford their studio rent anymore, and studio complexes go bankrupt? One thing is clear: the infrastructures and social property we will loose now, won't come back when we go back to 'normal'.
On top of it all, it's hardly allowed to ask these questions. According to public discourse, there are only two types of legitimate artistic in this time: 1. bringing solace, and 2. making face masks. It is, apparently, the task of artists to veil (crises, faces, themselves), rather than to unveil.
I see artists around me struggling with this situation. They are so used to be confronted with their superfluidity in society, that they started to believe in it. How to 'just' continue to make work, as if nothing happened? It's interesting how artists should ask themselves these questions, while banks, airlines, and oil companies receive government bail-outs. —Sepp Eckenhaussen
The old became New, and the New is not that New anymore... —Driton Selmani
I hope that this pandemia will be the turn in environmental crisis we are facing for an already long time. I hope art and culture will become leaders in this age of new singularity, in which sciences will not work separately and in isolation, one from each other, but the geology, virology, physics, medicine and veterinary studies will join forces into common goal of understanding the nature.
In isolation, things came down for me to a few essential elements: family, walking, work. As a part-time employee (after five years working as an external associate) at the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka, my existence wasn't in jeopardy. I didn't earn much more than for a flat and food, but thas was similar to time before the virus. I missed the spontaneity, hugs with older family members and friends. What I felt I had too much, as it seems for most of the people, is computer work. As I quarantined in Rijeka, I kept track of what was happening with the culture in the city, which in 2020 is one of the two European capitals of culture. The minister did not say anything about the importance of these programs, the mayor spoke about loopholes in the budget. Until then, the ECOC title was seen as a possibility to attract tourists, and when it became certain that due to the virus that would not happen, programs that had been built for years, people who had been trained, who did a long term job of building public interest in culture, they were no longer important. 59 employees from ECOC were fired, while the rest ten employees did not communicate in the public as they were banned. In this situation, cultural workers responded in various ways. Three professors of the Academy of Applied Arts in Rijeka organized a public zoom discussion ECOC - What to Do?. Here the topic of a different understanding of culture in crisis, of a solidarity and horizontal decision-making process, was erected. This concept was not concrete enough for politicians and economists taking part in discussion, while some cultural workers were mobilized toward the thought that a different, common way of creating culture content is possible.
I live alone. Was working from my kitchen for two weeks than I Got ill and was quarantene 100% for 3 weeks. Working from home would be in my case good 2 to 3 Times a week. I did not see my daugter or granddaughter But trough viber for 2 months. I Have realised that it IS Hard to be isolated for so long.
It is my hope that the coronavirus pandemic will make us more aware of our global connectedness and interdependency and will provoke us to reconsider capitalism itself a deadly virus in need of the antibodies of socialism to defeat it. I am witnessing students wanting to design new schools, joining anti-fascist groups to challenge Trump, forming reading groups dedicated to the writings of Paulo Freire. I’m worried about how the Hollywood art scene might react. If it might itself become the coronavirus of global culture. Coronavirus art on yoga stretchpants becoming fashionable with the Beverly Hills workout crowd? Salvaged facemasks from the trashcans of celebrities on display in local galleries? Empty toilet paper rolls dangling from ceilings? Graffitied thongs worn by supermodels substituting for facemasks? Horror films shot in reality television format where human heads transform into the coronavirus? Will masks displaying massively enlarged virions surrounded by luminous “coronas” replace Jason's iconic goalie mask? What will the next Hallowe'en party look like? Will coronavirus patterns become the new black? Will we see viral spike peplomers projecting from proteinaceous envelopes forming the Joker’s smile in the next rendition of Batman? Will we become enthralled by the club-like projections slithering out from a viral membrane like blackheads being squeezed by the invisible fingers of God? Will we ever be able to view Michelangelo’s creation of Adam the same way? Will the head of Jesus on the cross be replaced by the halos emanating from the coronavirus? Will we be invited to wipe down discarded refuse from local nursing homes? Will an artist influenced by Chris Burden invite us to play Russian Roulette by vaping the coronavirus? Will a ventilator displayed in a solitary room become the equivalent of Marcel Duchamp’s new readymade urinal-topped fountain (or was Baronness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven the real creator?). Will Kim Kardashian be the first to balance a coronavirus facsimile on her butt? I lived in Hollywood for 20 years and I am only anticipating what is to come. —Peter McLaren
Considering the economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic I would like to emphasise that freelance artists (writers, visual artists, dancers, actors, editors, musicians, etc.) are one of the most vulnerable social groups. Considering my working experience, here I will propose some measures to help visual artists in Croatia.
They are based in part on an already existing and largely well-organized system of state support for artist's activities, ranging from those taking place within museum-gallery system, to those taking place within so-called independent cultural scene and also within networks of cultural centers mainly founded in socialism, to those conducted within arts associations (HDLU, ULUPUH, etc.).These measures could represent a new contract / deal between the state / society and artists.
These three proposals should therefore be understood as a call for dialogue:
— to make stronger the executive power of artist's associations (HDLU, ULUPUH, etc.) in finding solutions to problems
— to include visual artists in all public works involving the design or decoration of interior or exterior spaces, whether it be the renovation or construction of public schools, kindergartens, colleges, hospitals, etc. Murals, public sculpture, urban elements such as benches, trash cans, street signs and the like, it is all a possible field of work
— to include visual artists as part-time lecturers in primary and secondary school and in college education
— to create a fund aimed at purchasing art works for museum collections
Working in the cultural NGO sector means continuous precarity even in the “normal” circumstances. Pandemic influenced my work and family in several different ways. First and more easily solvable are adjustments that had to be made regarding different activities. We managed to find solutions either through online programs, changes of formats or postponing. Also, more flexible attitude from our financiers are announced regarding conduction of our programs and reporting. Second is preparation for long term economic consequences of pandemic. It causes anxiety while trying to figure out models of survival in the upcoming tight financial situation. All this is intertwined with family life. Having an elementary school kid, care towards his health, feelings and schooling, unavoidably adjusts responsibility towards work. Productivity is challenged on a daily basis. The future of arts and culture after Covid-19...It seems to me that it will be -- arts and culture with the threat of another pandemic. We will rethink and develop all our programs with this in mind. A version in case of this happening again will be integral part of our plans. Culture will also lose valuable organisations which won't be able to survive upcoming economic crisis. Less artist will be able to create, valuable works and ideas will be lost. I honestly cannot imagine the consequences of this outcome. I hope adequate state measures and solidarity from those organisations that persist in new circumstances will be enough for the whole sector to pull through and recuperate in a year or so.
There is always future – without or with ( ). Limitations cab give us also new possibilities – I think that never will be the same. Returning to “normal” is a question of what is normal. It was normal before Covid? Can we create better normal, etc? Circustamsteg curates us, but now with this situation, we can feel it more. Reductions, emptiness, closers, inside, outside, touch, etc. can be a starting point for regulations or radical resetting for the art field and everything else. We start to observed the environment and people with a different view. This new view can bring us new dimensions, new local situations, new thoughts, but also can be dangerous because limitation which imposed on us. —Neza
I am in the UK and Covid-19 became real for my partner and I during a visit to Edinburgh in early March. We enjoyed eating out and visiting our favourite spots in a city that we know so well, and where we first met. We visited lots of the family, including my partner’s mum who is 95 and in care in Dundee. Yet by the end of that week….we were socially distancing from all of them – and not because we had fallen out! As we travelled back home to the Midlands, we realised that lockdown was imminent. Conferences and international teaching plans were rapidly cancelled, along with our holiday to Spain. By mid-March we had brought our eldest son home from his university to join his brother, and together with the cat, we have since been residing, working, supervising, researching, studying and caring for family members…in the oddest of circumstances. My only travel outside the city is an hour’s drive away, to clean and shop for my 87 year old father with alzheimer's, once a fortnight (armed with my power of attorney documents in case I am stopped by the police). My Dad has just lost his 94 year old brother to Covid-19. Though he lives with my sister, she has been mentally unwell all of her life. Amazingly now, in her mid-fifties, she is rising to new challenges, to help keep their home going between our visits. When we call, we shut them in a room to avoid contact, when normally we would hug them and chat. Though experienced in teaching and communicating online, as a university professor, I have now learned more new software, in order to present my research, chair PhD vivas online (where the student is not the only nervous one..) to attend meetings and to further projects and bids. Simultaneously, we have met with family members (those who can use the technology…) in virtual pubs over Facetime, and now poignantly, in a few days’ time, we will attend my uncle’s funeral over a web cam link. Furthermore, on 1 May as I write, we now await news on my partner’s mum, who has just tested positive for Covid-19. What do I miss? Spontaneously heading off on a trip and meeting friends in person for sure, but at the same time, we have enjoyed our daily walks before work, noticing wildlife all around reclaiming spaces that humans have left, chats around a table in the middle of the night and burning fir cones on a chiminea in the garden with a beer. Time seems to pass at a different rate…and it is hard to imagine at this point what the coming weeks will bring.
The biggest challenge is that my work and my family life are completly intertwined in these Covid-19 situation, even more after the earthquake we had in Zagreb. I am working on two jobs (even prior to this situation) so I continue doing them from home, trying to create online content so our financeers don't pull the plug. In the same time, I ma at home with my husband, two daughters, one of which has to be now homeschooled and it takes cca 4 hours each day out of my time. The other part of the day I am working and repairing the flat after the eartquake that hit Zagreb in the midst of pandemic. So,it is not easy but I feel lucky (sic!) to still have a job, unlike a lot of my colleagues from the fileld or workers in Croatia in general. I feel hopeless in a way, expecting even bigger crisis than we had before all this.
As a cultural worker, my projects were stopped as one of the first protective measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19. It was pretty much overnight. Our theatre rehearsals stopped, film festival workshop that I work for held online, play that I was writing was suddenly for too many actors (they can not fit on the stage while keeping prescribed physical distance). I got back from Dubrovnik to Zagreb where I choose to be during the lockdown. Regarding weather and places to walk, my birth town Split was a way better option, but choosing between being in lockdown with my whole family and with my boyfriend in Zagreb...well, you know. After only a few days of lockdown - earthquake. My apartment got damaged. But still, I can't go to Split because they discovered they were some infected workers at the Dubrovnik Airport where I was just a few days ago, so I don't want to endanger my whole family. I decide to stay in Zagreb and get friendly with daily earthquakes and falling plaster and paint. What now? At least you can write, they all keep saying. Well, perfect, another pressure on the pile. Hm, maybe It will be therapeutic for me. Every play that I wrote was some kind of (auto)therapeutic experience. So I sit and watch in the white piece of paper. It is so white, my eyes are hurting. I can't write. I can't take any distance from what is going on to all of us, I can't imagine the ''new normal'', I can't see the new world that is waiting for us, after (but when?) this all go away. I was trying to convince my self that this is exactly what I need, some time to rest, to workout, to cook, to take proper care for my plants (too many Instagram for me). But, this is not the vacation. My body and my mind are only struggling to survive these unknown circumstances. At the end of the day, even I didn't do anything physical, I'm exhausted. All the numbers, how many new cases, how many deaths, all the news, economy crises predictions, all the inhuman politics moves, Ministry of Culture that don’t understand the first thing about work in culture... it's hard to cope with the reality when there is nothing left from your everyday life. And here I am again, trying to answer how I imagine the future of arts and culture after Covid-19. Well, first of all, I think that all precarious cultural workers should find a steady job outside of culture so that we have time and resources to produce art again. It’s a dark thought but It’s an honest one. I think that culture is and will be affected for a long time. On the other hand, I am sure that art will produce again some interesting and magnificent work. These two months forced us in new experiences and new perspectives, we are all out of our comfort zone, which has always been the most fertile ground for art. To end optimistically.
I will start by saying that even before everything got disrupted; everybody imagined the that we could do better than this. Now with everyone at home like a grounded teenager, this impression just became much stronger. A major challenge during these days for me is to plan things and make decisions. I live on two addresses, one in Croatia and the other in Spain. On a mid-term basis, it is impossible to predict when the travels will be possible if my landlord will change the contract, which dates I can count on or not for being somewhere. Day to day logic relaxes one half of the brain but worries the other. Next to work, keeping in touch with people on distance, professionally and personally, housekeeping, reorganising needs more than 24 hours that day offers. The other thing is that I really miss being in actual contact with the colleagues and people I do things with. Keeping the productive part of collaboration alive requires much more time online than in person and sometimes being 4 hours on Zoom, Jitsy, Meet is more I can handle. I become passive in conversations and can't keep an overview of the things we are doing. I think that for survival we need to work like a pack, not a cyborg. And after the earthquake, I have one night in ten days where I have trouble sleeping due to new fear I have: waking up in a new disaster, storm, fire, earthquake. I think it is actually a fear that we crossed the tipping point of climate change and consequences are around the corner if not here already. Art in the future? An unplundered field for new beginnings. Just kidding. Everybody dreams about the new beginning but we already now see that we are not doing a lot about it now. Somehow we all wait for the lockdown to pass to see how bad the storm was. I think the tragedy still didn't come close to our skin for some enlightenment to expect. I expect maybe art to become more about survival than it was until now. In every possible sense. Art like everything else today is hypermediated. I wonder if all mediators will survive the coming economic crisis and if an artist will actually become more independent from the artist or market however, it is called. An artist might go with the flow of two streams, one that gets increasingly dependent on technology to gather the audience and the other that is increasingly dependent on the community in more physicall sense, like city, or neighbourhood, just because this is what people will need. Resistance is futile.
Imagine that in the midst of the COVID outbreak, there is a 5.5 magnitude earthquake and you are forced to run outside as quickly as possible, while it's starting to snow. It sounds like a bad movie. It actually happened in Zagreb on the 22nd March. So, while we are all trying to cope with all the changes around COVID, we are also very cautious about the crisis caused by the earth shaking. The streets are dangerous to walk not only because of the virus, but also because of the houses. To stay inside or to go outside, this is the question, especially to those living in the city centre.
At the same time, as a designer I am experiencing another crisis on a professional level. My living room is turned into a co-working space I share with my partner, while my actual working space is demolished by the earthquake. Zoom meetings cannot replace the dynamics of the co-working environment I am used to, and on-line exhibition openings are no fun without real life interactions. Most of my planned exhibitions as a freelancer within the independent cultural scene in Croatia, have been cancelled, together with the major travelling exhibition I have been working on for the last 2 years. Financial aid for freelance artists provided by the Ministry of Culture, although announced one month ago has still not arrived. The whole process of acquiring this help was shameful and ended up by the Ministry of Culture “accidentally” publishing applicants’ private information. From a very personal level: senses are sharper, the spring smells stronger, the streets are wider, the people are kinder, the vegetables are local, bread is easy to make, I am more patient, I spend less, and produce more quality content, I exercise, do not speed, stress from work seems far away, I am not constantly exposed to the language of marketing and unnecessary media trivia. If I zoom out a little bit more: people are claiming public space in parks, rediscovering the river, small communities in the neighborhood are starting to reconnect and communicate, they support theater performing within the building block, they raise their voice against bad political decisions from their balconies, and also have more time to think and solidarize with the vulnerable members of the society, while cultural organisations are advocating for basic income. And on the global level, it feels like we are part of the same organism, the system run by free market is on hold, we are relying and re-establishing trust in other people, especially health workers and caregivers, the air is easier to breathe, meat is of the market, there is no invasive travelling, it seems like everyone is more easily mobilized.
Precisely now that we have experienced some of the positive side-effects of this crisis, more than ever, it feels like it is a moment to reconsider our inert and introverted attitudes, gather our thoughts against malfunctioning politics and act.
Living in Zagreb, Croatia, I am currently experiencing numerous challenges associated with working at home with a 6 year old kid. On the bright side, I am lucky because my job at the university is not in danger - I teach online, and my salary arrives regularly.
Unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for many artists, who are typically not on a payroll. After Covid-19, these people will face numerous existential challenges which will not be easy to negotiate. As a result, I am afraid, the whole world will lose a lot of good work by artists who will simply not be able to do arts without financial support.
Having said that, the future of arts without public gatherings does not need to be bad. At least for some artists, this sudden switch online will offer a window of opportunity which they did not have previously. Arts will be forced to become more creative, and less traditional, so perhaps there will even be some good results from the crisis.
As an aficionado of music and other forms of live art, I will miss concerts and public gatherings. But I am also confident that arts will find a way to people's hearts - because they always do. I think that right now it is very important to invest money, and also other resources, in artists who are trying to do something different. I am not speaking of investing in some abstract arts; - but in living people of flesh and blood - artists.
In this terrible situation, we can choose from focusing to immediate losses or potential gains, and I'm firmly oriented towards the latter! —Petar Jandric
At the moment I am in Zagreb, which has suffered Covid-19 and an earthquake. Our daily lives are turned upside down. I live in a city centre flat where earthquake damages are strong, with a partner who works all the time, a kid who terribly misses his friends, and a cat which is delighted because the whole family is at home. Most of my shows are cancelled, and my focus is on online teaching. Our daily rhythm is adapted to kid’s needs, and time for arts has become very limited. I wake up at 6 am to do some teaching before my son wakes up. Then I become a housewife, mum, teacher, and partner and then sporadically teacher and artist again. I cannot understand people who have extra time in this situation; I don’t have enough time for anything. Our flat is in complete chaos although we seem to be constantly cleaning. Between surviving daily banalities, handwashing, disinfecting shopping, and earthquake scares, I’m thinking of this new normality. From my perspective the world of arts was in crisis before this crisis. I am nostalgic for many things, but not precarious work conditions, market values, blockbuster shows, tourist goals. Depending on day, earthquakes, news with numbers of infected and dead people, emotional crisis, my vision switches between utopia to dystopia, and both seem equally possible. In a dystopian vision we’re going back to the old normal, on the surface, to the world of even worse precarity, continuous competition, elite audiences which walk through museums with their designer masks performing their 2 meter distance. Utopian image is fragile, built on people not on bricks. In that faraway world arts institutions are infrastructure which enables collaboration rather than competition. Arts are not doomed to the while cube, and people have enough time to create, to be audience… at exhibition openings, we drink wine which is not acid. I sometimes catch a moment for drawing, mostly comics. I’m not a comic maker, don’t have any ambitions in the field, and that just calms me down… the idea to build and destroy worlds in fiction. I’m not afraid for arts as such, I’m more afraid for fellow artists and our existence. I cannot wait to hang out again, with a glass of wine, and I cannot wait for the beginning of this fragile new world. —Ana
Art after the end The essential method
(Based on the Full text of THE SEGAL METHOD – Instructions to build your own house by Walter Segal)
Segal's instruction to build one's own house from the foundation to the ceiling starts with a set of general principles. Those are here reinterpreted with substituting just one word in each point and removing some architectural phrases to maintain the meaning. Some points remain without intervention.
■ It is an attitude of mind rather than a system of *relations*.
■ The attitude is one of rigorous simplification of the whole *art production* process from design to completion.
■ The process is rethought from first principles to derive simple yet effective ways of dealing with the fundamental issues of *existence*, such as tolerances and movement.
■ Elements are reduced to their essentials to obtain maximum economy of material and effort.
■ Practical emphasis is given to the processes of *survival*.
■ The method is very open because it uses materials and techniques that are readily available, rather than specially *curated* for a particular system.
■ This allows maximum benefit to be gained from *rejecting* the market with regard to price and availability of materials.
■ The method can absorb any improvements in techniques and performance.
■ Using standard readily available materials, assembled on site as far as possible, reduces the processes *on* production carried out on site.
■ The *hunger games* produced by the supply industry to a consistent quality are considered as finished.
■ Waste is kept to a minimum.
■ Building materials such as plasterboard and woodwool slabs are combined to form the enclosure of the building within a framework of standard sections of *gallery*.
■ Much of the approach could, however, be applied to other *places* as both frame and infill.
■ *Failiures* are chosen with regard to their performance and cost. They are easy to work, using simple hand power tools and are of an easily handled size and weight.
■ The *audience* is organised on a modular grid determined by the sizes of standard materials.
■ *Fundings* are simple trades such as bricklaying and plastering.
■ *Expectations* are reduced to a minimum.
■ The whole *reflection* process is simplified so that it can be carried out by one person with basic skills.
■ The *reception* is quick and economical.
■ The documentation is simple and consists of small free-hand diagrams of the layout and structure with standard details of *art-work*, a schedule of materials and a set of instructions.
■ The *curation* combines the functions of bills of quantities, specification and order list and provides a basis for accurate ordering and cost control from the outset.
■ The role of the *curator* includes those of the quantity surveyor and, ideally, the engineer.
■ The simplicity of the *production* and documentation makes the whole process transparent\and easily understood by someone without experience who can thus become involved in controlling the process.
■ It is possible for someone with no previous experience to plan the layout and carry out the *dialogue* if they want.
■ The whole process produces *ideas* that are not monumental or heavy, or which encircle the personality, but rather that encourage a feeling of lightness and optimism, *ideas* of their time to be used and enjoyed.
■ *Deadlines* are very adaptable and easy to extend.
■ The method can produce many types of one- and two-storey *falls*, incorporating, for example, flat or pitched roofs, courtyards, split levels and double height spaces..