COVID-19 Anxiety: Location, Refuge and Loss.
Pam Patterson, Joanna Black & Daniel Payne.
COVID-19 Anxiety Project artists/collaborators: Pam Patterson, as a queer disability performance and visual artist, has exhibited and performed across Canada and internationally solo, and in ARTIFACTS. Joanna Black’s politically engaged new media, paintings, multimedia and performance works have been shown in Canada and the United States in solo and group exhibitions. Daniel Payne is an active modern and baroque violoncellist. He is principal chair for the Counterpoint Community Orchestra—the world’s longest standing LGBTQ2S orchestra—and Arcady Choir and Orchestra.
With the awareness of living in a damaged world, art can no longer rely on the representation or imagination of the world “out there,” of nature as the object of aesthetic reflection. Yet a nature that is no longer natural is in dire need of being brought to our senses, set before our eyes.… What is needed are bodies of evidence for a transformation that is both so massive and so tiny, that is happening so fast and so slowly that no image or narrative can ever grasp its breath... Producing such bodies of evidence seems like an impossibility – and at the same time more necessary than ever. – Eva Horn, The Anthropocene Sublime
COVID-19 demonstrates that anthropogenic processes are having devastating effects on planetary life but how can we, as humans, productively and creatively assemble during such a major crisis? Does this event mark a severe discontinuity? Is Donna Haraway correct when she suggests, “What comes after will not be like what came before”.
Our objective as artists connected online in isolation is to push ourselves into directions that we don’t yet necessarily know how to express. The moment has so completely enveloped our lives that we can’t quite comprehend the results of this action from where we are currently situated. But what consumes us is an irrepressible, manic curiosity… an “anxiety of dissolution” creating a “state of indecisive agitation”.
To counteract this irresolution, we are asking deeply reflexive questions. How can we cultivate a capacity to follow curiosity and sit with anxiety? What are we being rendered capable of? How is this moment altering our imagination and thinking? How can we engage as affective, ethical, and hands-on agencies of practical consequence? Responses to these questions and more speaks to our intention to develop and produce “bodies of evidence”. These “bodies” will address issues around “location,” “loss,” and “refuge”, enacting socially mediated and subjectively variable responses, as “shudders” that support modes reflective of urgent embodied knowing, thinking and feeling. It is not resilience we are talking about here, but rather a realization of our own possible extinction. While we have collaborated in different capacities on projects as artists, designers, curators, and writers never before has this been accomplished in isolation, online, and in the making a collaborative video work and in building a three-person online exhibition.
The collaborative video combines digital image by Joanna Black, a performative action (tracing the interior wall of a living space – a haptic dance performed by Patterson and filmed at a distance as a way to mark isolation and temporary refuge), and a original composed work on cello by Daniel Payne.