It’s all everybody’s talkin’ about. Maybe also because, for some time now, there was nothing more to talk about. We had no such important topics to tackle the media pandemic. We had definitely succumbed to lifestyles and nighttime noises. All around there was anger, frustration, and so much fear. Then the virus came, and now we are even afraid of breathing in the air — the only thing we were still sharing outside the Internet. The one who’s wearing no mask today is a monster, more than ever. Everyone else has an important opportunity to become aware and change.
In the meanwhile, art and creativity haven’t died away, and artists around the world are responding to the situation through their work. Someone with a mind for the emotions underneath the medical worker’s mask, some other with a tinge of satire or dark humour.
By drawing on his architectural training and self-declared creative focus on “the evolution of art, design, aesthetics, and the feeling of experiencing a perceptual environment” to create the murals, designer Duyi Han digitally inserted images of medical workers in gloves, masks, and full-body suits onto the walls and ceilings of a Christian church in Hubei province, the primary Covid-19 infection area. The series is entitled The Saints Wear White.
One of the most touching shot showing this saint side of medical workers, despite their space suits, is that by Gan Junchao. In this picture, an 87-year-old COVID-19 patient and his doctor, Liu Kai, watch the sunset on their way back from a CT scan at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, in Hubei province, China — the center of the outbreak of the disease. It was the first time that the novel coronavirus pneumonia patient had the chance to watch a sunset outside the ward during his month of treatment at the hospital.
“The elderly man had been stuck in the isolation ward for nearly a month, which made him a bit depressed. I thought the rays of the sun might cheer him up. Since coming to Wuhan, we have been working shifts around the clock. I also wanted to enjoy it awhile. Even though we only spent five minutes outside, his mood improved and he soon fell asleep after returning. The patient, who also is a violinist, is now recovering and has begun singing every day. He promises us to perform the song When Will You Return? on the day he is discharged. I also made a deal with him to see the cherry blossoms together after the epidemic,” Liu said.
On the occasion of the healthcare workers‘ protest in Hong Kong, early last month, illustrator Stephanie Belbin created her first work about the virus. She just wanted her friends and family to know she was thinking of them.
In Japan, where she currently lives, Covid-19 has also disrupted daily life — national museums have been closed in Tokyo and other cities, and the Spring Basho, the annual sumo tournament, will be held behind closed doors with no spectators allowed.
From groups chasing face masks to monster colds and altered monuments, Hong Kong artist Tommy Fung has created a real series of Coronavirus-inspired artworks. Crediting his upbringing in Venezuela and Latin America, “where people can make jokes about everything,” Tommy reflects on what he daily sees in Hong Kong, “in an exaggerated way and with a bit of humor.”
In Italy, Urban artists Tvboy and Andrea Villa revisited two art classics of their country. The results are Love in the Time of Co…vid-19 — from Francesco Hayez’s The Kiss —, in Milan, and The Market of society in psychosis — from Renato Guttuso’s La Vucciria —, in Turin.
The artist Matsuyama Miyabi concentrated on the censorship surrounding the virus, throug her We Call It Free Will series. According to the BBC’s China correspondent Stephen McDonell on Twitter, there’s a reference to the word “Harmony” over the eyes, a catchphrase used by the former Chinese leader Hu Jintao used to censor people.
The Chinese political cartoonist Kuang Biao responded to the death of the coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, who warned of the virus via social media, with a political cartoon of the doctor wearing a barbed wire in the shape of a face mask, silencing him. According to Pat Chappatte on Twitter, the drawing has gone viral on Weibo, the Chinese social media platform.
How to Survive a Deadly Global Virus, by the German-Namibian designer Max Siedentopf, made some people argue and indignate. To the point that his creator had to apologize to everyone that felt offended, adding that his work aims “to take people out of their comfort zone and see things from a different perspective, both positively and negatively.” To draw attention to paranoia and media coverage of the outbreak, rather than to make fun of the health crisis.