This past week has been pretty intense. And I am one of the very lucky ones, feeling even ashamed to say it was intense.
A lot has been going through my mind, and far too much scrolling for my own good.
Trying to get myself informed and find a way to actively stand in solidarity against racism. I’ve come to realise that this is something which will be a life-long battle. Because change, sad as it is, rarely happens quickly and when it does, it’s often not real long-term change.
So over the past week I have been trying to figure out with myself how I will help in the long-term. How I can be leading a life which will build towards a better future. I guess it’s me trying to restore hope in myself for a better tomorrow.
Building towards a utopia - a thought that came back into my head. A place which is designed to be idealistic. A goal that you will never experience, but you can only hope for. Perhaps depressing to some, but I think it’s a hopeful prospect.
There are certainly many short term actions that can be of great benefit to black communities and activists during these times, but I think the battle which our generation has is one of unlearning and listening. Unlearning and untangling the histories that we have been told. Histories that have served to benefit a western perspective. A capitalist perspective. I’ve seen this said a few times on various social media platforms, how it’s sometimes easier to imagine the end of the world rather than the end of capitalism. Now is a good time for us to stop that lazy narrative.
It’s time to actively start to engage with stories silenced by the West. And I am sure this has been said before and I am sure I have read similar sentences before. But this time, rather than letting them be simple sentences, it’s time to find ways to make them practical. Find ways to make them the “new norm”.
For anyone feeling lost or helpless right now, a simple Google search will lead you to a pool of resources. Absorb this knowledge and use it.
We have a long way to go, but there is no better time to start than now.
I’ve been on one of the ‘lower’ weeks again, but you know what next week might change again. My doodles are starting to become VERY boring, as I feel my creativity has gone out the window and drawing lines has become an obsessional therapy rather than a creative output. The less I think the better. Doodles as anti-stress lines.
Doodles from this week remind me of all the fields I have been interacting with in the past couple of months. These fields have become my source of sanity. It has been fascinating seeing them morph each week. I’ve been repeating the same cycles and walks every week, as obsessively as my doodles. There is a strange comfort in seeing the same thing over and over again, but each time a little different. Because it’s spring time, things are blossoming, others disappearing. They grow, they change, they move.
This attention to detail in my surrounding, or in nature, is something I can confidently say I have NEVER paid attention to, or enjoyed previous to Corona. But with the slowing down of life and the reduced amount of space in which one can move around, all of a sudden my locality started to speak to me in a way in which I would have never noticed had this quarantine not happened. Having been forced to reduce my movement within what is close by on foot or bike, I started to notice and explore my locality. I live in the 22nd district of Vienna, one which I often refer to as the ass crack of Vienna. But you know what, it’s a pretty beautiful ass crack.
This new experience, of having spent a couple of months only experiencing my locality, made me think about the writers from the early 20th century. I feel like there was a certain style of writing in which they would describe every detail in the environment. A writing which I find extremely boring, especially because a lot of it is descriptive of nature and my knowledge of biology is extremely poor. So when they would name different plants and trees, I would regularly skip those paragraphs to get to the action. But now I’ve started to think that I maybe didn’t like that style of writing because I didn’t understand that style of life.
Back when these works were made, they would have had a slower pace of life and a greater connection to the locality. YES huge generalisation but you know what, this is my theory. Without things like public transport, or the fact that it’s normal for people to have a car, people didn’t do things like commute, or meet friends on the other side of town every week. So perhaps it’s because of this slower and more localised lifestyle that they noticed all the freaking details. I mean, I would have too!
Previous to Corona, when my norm was to travel 30 minutes with the metro to get to my studio, then another 30 to meet a friend for a drink, then another 30 to get back home, details did not exist. My daily experience was far more spread out, as was my attention. I’d notice perhaps a new billboard, or a building that has been destroyed. But something like the blossoming of a tree or a flower? Never.
I’ve started to find a lot of comfort in this slow pace, even after the quarantine has been lifted. And I continue my local walks and cycles, but perhaps not as frequently as before. And you know what? The park in front of my house, which has been empty for 20 YEARS has finally come alive during this period, and even post-quarantine it’s still going strong. So you know, there will be some good bits we take with us from this experience. And hopefully things that might prepare us for other tough times we are likely to face in the future. Or maybe I am just trying to dig out some hope from this miserable week?
Instead here is a doodle from Henry Jay Kamara's reading of his book 'Universal Spirit'. This experience made me re-think digital live experiences. Something that has become the norm since corona. Sitting in on this reading was really moving. The unintended sounds that creep in, such as the ambulance whizzing by, the NHS clap and the occasional sentences being repeated. It's all these unintended bits that made this reading feel so real and intimate.
I found a similar form of rawness in Instagram lives, with all their technical failures. And how people respond when they happen. Gives some human reality to this often over-polished digital vision. You can't edit much when it's live!
What's interesting is that I feel like I have slowly started to regain my personality back with each of these virtual events that I attend. A reminder of the community and interests that I have outside of my parent's flat. And this thought is no news. My friend Barney wrote about it for the last submission round, it was mentioned a lot during The Save Latin Village fundraising fiesta (on zoom) and I am sure there are many more examples out there.
Even though the quarantine in Vienna has (sort of) been lifted, my mental quarantine still remains. In my case, because of the fear of infecting my parents. I always wonder if I would be as cautious if I was living alone. But another point is that I'm not sure whether the quarantine was lifted because it was safe or because they needed the economy to return to some normality. It feels like the second option right now. Either way, I think it will take a while before I feel comfortable mixing with a large group of people again.
A few months ago if you would have told me the value of an online community, I wouldn't have paid much attention to it. But now, when I can't choose where I go and with who I am on a daily basis, these online communities have turned into my saviours. A way to stay sane and feel like I am still part of the outside world we stepped away from, 2,3 months ago.
It will be interesting to see how these communities continue in the coming months. And what new friends, collectives, groups may form out of them. People who would have never met had these strange circumstances not occurred. Speaking of which, I even had a first Google Hangouts meet with someone whose work I admire. This is something I would have never initiated, had this new online reality become such a norm to me. And the chat was great! Much better than any email, instagram or website could have been. A conversation can often tell you more about a person, than how they present themselves or their work online. It breaks down any judgement you may have formed in your head, because in that moment you are looking at each other through a screen and talking, you can really get a sense for who the other person is.
Unlike social media, these virtual live experiences and interactions give me no anxiety. Maybe this is because of all their imperfections. Or perhaps that it's easier to get a feel for the mood and the energy of a person. To judge them less quickly. To get out of the echo chamber that is easily created in your head when passively scrolling.
This week I feel that I was embracing the present a little bit more.
I haven't been thinking much about all the things I miss from the old world. I'm not sure what triggered this way of thinking. Maybe it's all these digital live experiences? Or maybe it's this book I've been reading (The Power of Now - ha!) or maybe i've just accepted this new reality? Or perhaps I have slowly started to let go of some of the prejudice I had towards the digital / virtual format because I found a genuine way to experience it?
Who knows - I may have just been on the upward curve on my corona mood swing chart. Let's see what the next weeks bring.
- Celebrate my grandpas 96th birthday with him.