To dwell in the world during the Coronavirus pandemic is to witness the collision of theory with experience. As we live through this unique historical moment, experiencing isolation, emptiness and absence in almost unprecedented ways, it is worth reflecting on the manner in which our bodies respond to a world drained of physical presence. I argue that an awareness of absence—and thus, conversely, of presence—should be considered as one amongst the almost infinite number of senses with which we are endowed. This sense should be understood as a physical and an emotional sensitivity not only to the absence of human presence, but also to the absence of things—a condition that is made appreciable through the complex relationship that exists between part and whole, non-place and place, here and gone. As is evident in so many instances, it is in the interstitial “spaces between” these categories that both meaning and material accumulate. Taking the remains of the abandoned Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick, Rhode Island as a case study, this presentation explores the ways in which the material environment at the park has been altered by visitors to reflect an awareness of absence through mark-making and graffiti.
Our vlog shows how you can still research the world when confined to your home or neighbourhood. Within 200 yards of our home we can zoom out from tiny personal knowledge, to broader natural disasters, and world events. We start in our home and talk about its history, show how high the water came during the flood of 1953 according to the stories of our late neighbour, then connect and walk to the monument around the corner remembering the fire line (brandgrens) in Rotterdam of May 1940. It shows how the bombardement in Rotterdam, which led to the surrender of The Netherlands, can be found in the buildings, urban myths and official commemoration.
This Twitter thread examines a series of University students’ maps of the COVID landscape. We focus on mechanisms of retreat in quarantine and the ways students are creating new forms of social place. The students’ maps illuminate the experience of online education and new forms of digital and spatial socializing that negotiate isolation and anxiety while fabricating new forms of place.
This Twitter thread is devoted to our collaborative work on how COVID-19 has altered the ways we encounter our material world. We will take attendees on an audio and visual tour of materiality and alterations to landscapes documented in the project collaborators’ communities and home countries across the United States and Chile. To interpret this data, we draw upon theoretical frameworks in the fields of collective memory, trauma studies, and psychogeography. The data include yard signs, chalk art, flyers, and other forms of artwork as well as public signage and material changes in how people navigate their communities (e.g. lockdowns, tracking people’s movements, etc.). We explore how these phenomena engaged notions of home, shelter, space, comfort, and community. The project collaborators will also reflect upon how we have used archaeological and anthropological methodologies of documenting and observing as a way of coping with the stress, uncertainty, and trauma of a global pandemic. A core approach to our work has been the recognition that we, too, are each part of the communities experiencing this trauma. Our analysis necessarily includes our own movements through emotional and physical space.
V&A Dundee’s Young People’s Collective, with Elizabeth Day, Mhairi Maxwell & Tracey Smith (UK)
Join V&A Dundee’s Young People’s Collective and watch their video discussion (link coming soon!)
24 October 19:00 BST Live Q&A on Twitter about the dicussion and curating the COVID-19 pandemic (follow #festivalchat2020 and @VADundee).
V&A Dundee’s brand new exhibition, Now Accepting Contactless, has been co-designed by teams from across the museum, including our Young People’s Collective (henceforth known as YPC). The group of 14-24 year olds focussed on the section entitled ‘Imagining the Future’, wherein the team discussed our current moment as a turning point. What can we learn from the pandemic thus far? How can we progress in a positive and environmentally conscious manner?
In our video discussion we discuss what exactly makes a future artefact and how you can curate something which is live and changing daily. What is the role of a design museum currently? And how can this morph to represent the social implications of COVID-19?
The YPC are joined by V&A Dundee curators Kirsty Hassard and Mhairi Maxwell. YPC introduce what the group does on a weekly basis, and how their presence within the museum effects programming for young people in local communities. There is a live Q&A on Twitter wherein YPC members will explain how you can get involved in their project(s).
Live talk on Friday 30 October 16:00-17:00 Eastern European Time (14:00-15:00 GMT)
How can an unprecedented global crisis, like COVID-19, be a catalyst for the making of an online socio-cultural project about museums and the museum itself as an institution? How can the museum as a concept and frame of mind provide an intellectual tool and the evocative process for understanding our personal and collective identities and the meaning of our cultural experiences and life through them? How can an online community participatory project strengthen the idea of the museum as a field of inspiration and connection that concerns us all and gives us agility and hope to overcome personal fears and physical (perhaps also social) isolation?
These, and many more, open challenges were behind the initiative The Museum Inside Me, a museum of positive thinking composed of two photo collections on Facebook and Instagram. Created in March 2020 by a team of three professionals in the field of museums and cultural management, The Museum Inside Me acted as a bridge of communication and expression between citizens in the difficult period of lockdown (mainly in Greece). Based on the force of its participatory, evocative and anthropocentric spirit, it also envisioned to widen up its activities and role after the lockdown was over in order to enhance the exposure of museums in the public domain and their relevance in everyday social life.
In the presentation, I’ll outline the principles behind the creation of this project, the practical steps of its making, its content and meaning, its social impact among the community of its followers, and its potential as a strategic option for bringing ‘non-believers’ closer to the meaningful mental and psychic space of the museum.
Rosie Everett (UK), Ben Gearey (Ireland), Matt Pope (UK) and Orla Peach-Power(Ireland)
Live discussion event Sunday 25 October 18:00 GMT
The Viral Archive (@Viral_Archive) was established as a Twitter initiative at the beginning of the UK lockdown, and invited users from across the globe to share images of the responses to the pandemic they witnessed in their local area. The response to Viral Archive was overwhelming and has tracked the progression of the pandemic in its most personal form – everything from support for the health services on the front line to the creativity of those in the community to uplift to the current and the growing problem of COVID-related environmental waste in the landscape.
As a the group leading the Viral Archive Twitter initiative, we see our contribution to festivalCHAT as an opportunity to reflect on the last six months – what the Viral Archive has achieved, what we are doing currently, what other related ‘witnessing’ projects have developed and what we see for the Viral Archive as the pandemic continues to develop across the world.
Join us at an open discussion event when we will reflect on the project. Why we started it, what it means to us and what future form the project might take. The pandemic is certainly not over, but as we move into what feels ominously like the next stage/’wave’, we want to know what you – contributors, spectators, supporters – of the Viral Archive see for the future and how we might move forward as the pandemic develops.
Cutting across the ‘COVID-19’ and ‘Drift’ themes of festivalCHAT, I share my lockdown perambulations where I measured the compass within an Ayrshire Farm. An Ayrshire Situationist is a journey recording climate, social history, wildlife and the zeitgeist via drawing and walking.
It was a sensory practice with metre and awareness, thinking about how we see and how we acknowledge place and environment. The farm has been here for a while, it’s features on a Blau Map from 1650. My family arrived here from Kintyre early in the 19th Century. In many ways it mirrors the difficulty of small scale farming in the 21st Century. I would like to walk to points on the compass again capturing the same place in a different season, post lockdown, however not post COVID-19.
We never established if cows were Dadaists or more prone to nihilism. The project captured so many elements of that time, both personal and collective, when the world literally slowed to a daunder, you could hear the grass growing and the silence was so audible. There was no traffic or trains, no aircrafts. We heard a cuckoo, saw the hare and deer, the curlews made a cameo. And now it feels like another time. How would the same journey feel in autumn?