Can a virus inspire art?
Virus art is appearing in cities everywhere. This global pandemic has provoked reactions across the world from every quarter. Bombarded with scientific opinions, medical opinions and political opinions, we try to make sense of the situation. We are constantly examining how other countries are doing. Did they do lock down better than us, should we have done it earlier? Have they done more testing than us, less testing? Have they had more deaths, saved more lives?
Health workers are the new celebrities. Street art captures how everyday people see it in their own cities around the world. I love street art. It is a true reflection of cultural and media influences. It’s not art in a gallery and it doesn’t have a price tag (unless it’s a Banksy.) Also lots of people can see it in their immediate environment.
Poland – virus art in Warsaw
Healthworkers are the new celebrities. Not all heroes wear capes, says this Warsaw mural. Full PPE is a kind of superhero costume though isn’t it?
Poland is to gradually lift lockdown measures imposed as the nation prepares for a presidential election on 10 May. The ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party has said it wants to ease the economic pain from the pandemic, with restrictions on public life costing Poland some 10 billion zlotys (€2.21 billion) every day or two.
Virus art – Italian style
Northern Italy has been the epicentre of this pandemic. Italy has nearly 23% of its population over 65, probably due to that healthy mediterranean diet. Having the sixth longest life expectancy in the world (84) is now proving a disadvantage.
Many older Italians may also have been exposed to the virus in the workplace; in 2019 the average Italian retirement age was expected to be 67, at least two years later than average retirees in other Western developed nations.
Everyone is kissed regularly in Italy, social distancing is not their thing. Compared with say Germany, Italy is also much more densely populated. Milan is an international business hub and the country’s financial capital.
My friend Antoanella in Venice, has been in lockdown for nearly three months and she reports that it’s taking a terrible toll on everyone. She has started a small business making and selling face masks, a not unimpressive achievement at this awful time.
Coronavirus art – Russia
Another communist country – and a huge one at that – Russia’s president Vladamir Putin insists that ‘the situation is under full control. It is pretty much certain that they are vastly undercounting COVID-19 cases.
This mural in Moscow reads“Fight” and is next to the construction site of a new building of the Novomoskovsky-multipurpose medical centre for-patients suspected of coronavirus infection
Indonesia – virus art in Java
Indonesia is one of the worlds most populous and far-flung nations. It has only just closed its borders. Experts fear this is too late as Indonesia’s healthcare system will not be able to cope. As in other countries, there are warnings that official figures mask the true scale of virus cases and there has been little testing.
The world’s largest archipelago of islands, Indonesia is second only to China for coronavirus deaths in Asia. Novita Purwanti and her fellow nurses, at a public health centre in Bandung, West Java, are all too aware of this. They pooled funds to buy raincoats and two sets of medical goggles to share.
“We disinfected the raincoats so that we can use them again, while we’re waiting for the protective kits from the health agency to arrive,” she explains.
US virus art – portrays frontline fighters
West coast street artist Hijack Art has created a mural of two soldiers fending off the coronavirus in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood of LA. “This particular issue involving the coronavirus and all the devastation it’s leaving in its wake, is a no-brainer for me,” said the artist. “The fear and call to action of this pandemic has really captured the imagination of many in and outside my city.” The two characters in the piece are wearing Hazmat suits, while attempting to fend off the virus with a feather duster, Windex, hand sanitizer and a vacuum bearing a “No Covid-19” symbol.
In California things are a bit more hippy chic in style with this mural in Venice beach.
In the UK the government blunders from crisis to crisis hoping that their daily PR exercise press conference will make people like them more. The shortage of PPE for front line staff highlights the continued mismanagement of NHS procurement processes once again.
The ‘Stay at home to save lives’ mantra is on repeat on every single media channel. However, people from the rest of the world still waltz in through Heathrow airport. At one of the world’s largest airline hubs there are still no checks being made whatsoever on incoming travelers.
Check out my other coronavirus Blogs Coronavirus – a mental health meltdown