Notes on Isolation
Miguel Hilari, Sasha Kurmaz, Nida Mehboob, Ada Mukhina, Jennifer O‘Donnell, Lucie Sahner, Aled Smith, Undine Sommer
“The lockdown stranded me in Mexico, where I am editing a film. In Bolivia, the government militarized the country and made erratic decisions. Seasonal workers who lost their jobs in Chile walked back through the Andes for several days but were denied entry at the border. On the other hand, richer Bolivians who where also returning from Chile rented a plane and were allowed to enter without security measures.
There is no hope of going back right now. Some time ago, I walked up a mountain and took this picture. In a way, I will have been at home here, too.”
“It has been almost two months since I became isolated from the world in my apartment in Kyiv. My usual rhythm of life, my behaviour, my habits, my thoughts have changed quite a lot. The state of anxiety and fear, uncertainty and helplessness, irritability and sadness became my friend. I can’t go anywhere, I can’t concentrate, I don’t know what to do, I’m at a loss, but I’m still alive.
I am alive and I feel the world is changing. This world cannot be the same as before, and we cannot be the same in this new world, under these new conditions. I do not know what the world will be like in the future, but maybe this is an opportunity to start living anew. Maybe this is a chance for all of us to build a new world, a better world!”
“I am in isolation with my husband and things have been rough between us for some time now. I am always complaining that he doesn’t have time for us. I hope this lockdown helps us find a way back. The uncertainty of the future is a big concern but it is comforting to know that everyone is in this together.”
“The pandemic stranded me in St. Petersburg, Russia with my mom and my aunt. While all my projects are cancelled or on hold, I am renovating my childhood apartment. Learning to be my mom’s child again, haunted by the ghosts of dead family members, I am rebuilding and trying to fix my past with different tools: the paint roller, sandpaper and the putty knife. I’ve been away for too long and I did not want to stay for a long time – somebody put me on hold to think – What was I running away from?”
“Isolation, proximity, fragility. The last few weeks have been spent surrounded by things, not people. As the distance from others increases so too does the (unwanted) proximity to the objects around us, and so we’ve started to investigate this everyday ‘stuff’, focusing on the things that mediate between us and our environment, that entertain us, bore us, feed us; the treasure and the trash.”
“They replaced me and nobody noticed. I was once fit and energetic, now I feel more like a shell, filled perhaps with warm soup. Last week I slept for 19 hours in one day. Carpe diem, a poor, cloying calendar motto – sorry Horace – only brings me to day drinking. Wobbly belly, office in bed. Make the best of it. A lump in my throat. Last night I dreamt of cows that were as small as dogs – we went for a walk. I imagine them being let off the lead to frolic across the field and then that I was also one of these cows.”
After this aberrant period in time, the future seems so uncertain that an eventual reawaking from this dreamlike, lethargic state has become difficult to imagine – everything and nothing will change.
“The day Gifu prefecture announces its state of emergency, my partner’s mom teaches me how to make gyoza. She tells me she learned it from her mom, who learned it from a German woman who was married to a Japanese man. She only wore kimonos. Every day? I ask. Every day, she says. What a strange image: a German woman, dressed in a kimono, teaching her Japanese neighbour how to make gyoza. I wash my hands three times before I begin. I feel a circle – a round sheet of dough in my hand, so thin, my palm shines through – a human connection.”