TAAK is inviting artists to respond to a changing society during the COVID-19 pandemic. We share their reflections on our website as part of the programme In Quarantine.
In 2020, our perspectives on the public domain have suddenly shifted. A pandemic spreads widely from person to person, without any regard for geographic boundaries. It is uncertain how exactly the virus behaves, but it forces us all to avoid physical contact. In this extraordinary situation, places that are normally public have become less accessible, usually under strict restrictions only. People all around the world are urged to stay inside. The call for homestay also makes existing privileges and inequality painfully apparent.
This situation affects how we move around, both physically and mentally. We reflect upon what work and education mean to us, how we can maintain social contact, how we can support each other, and where we can find relaxation. The current restrictions protect certain groups and sectors, but cause disadvantages for others. There is widespread fear for the virus and uncertainty about the future. The measures taken magnify the dark side of a shared public space. How safe and accessible is this space during ‘normal’ times?
Caring for each other during the COVID-19 pandemic means creating space to maintain distance, but also creating space for new forms of mutual support. Keeping physical distance is not possible for everyone and under any circumstances. Moreover, ‘protection’ from the government threatens to devolve into (excessive) control. How just will the so-called ‘1.5-meter society’ be? How will particular measures be translated, and who is involved in this process?
Artists can play an important part here. Working from a position of not-knowing and insecurity is familiar to them, and so is imagining novel scenarios. We should experiment with these qualities in this time of crisis. We can implement proposals for different ways of living together, for example by developing complementary local measures — hoping that this will spark more structural and thorough thought on the way we arrange our public systems.
The series In Quarantine offers artists the possibility to share their reflections, considerations, and ideas during this period. We meet them through text, audio, and images. There is room for criticism, irony, anger, concern, surprise, and nuance. And for a discussion about what it means to be public (now) and to publish. We cannot yet say for how long In Quarantine will continue.