Joan Pope is a musician, video editor and artist. Her work draws on sex, death and rebirth. These artworks, in our view, operate as multi-media portals for the viewer to discover their own mystical experience of what may be sacred to them.
We asked Joan to respond to our theme of ‘Unlikely Pleasures’. These are the new works she has created. We invite you to consider, through Joan’s art, the less obvious pleasures that many of us have discovered we’ve made during the Covid pandemic that has given us a new way of viewing life and of holding mortality.
DG: Joan, can you tell us a little about your process of making these artworks?
Usually, I come up with a title first and then the art follows. The title essentially becomes the prompt and I go from there.
DG: Would you share one or two of your pleasures during the pandemic, things you might not have discovered or rediscovered, otherwise?
At the beginning of the pandemic, it was hard not to dwell on the immense feeling of loss it created. I felt like I finally reached a point in my career where I had a lot of momentum, and a lot of new, promising opportunities were arising. The pandemic demolished all of that. After allowing myself some time to grieve, I made it a point not to think about what could have been. It’s not a good road to go down. Generally, I always try to live in the present, but I started to focus more on the future… what will come next for me. Being more future-oriented is new for me. I think it’s helped me solidify a sense of “rootedness” because when we plant seeds, we must remember to allow room for growth. I’ve found joy in looking forward.
Another surprising discovery I uncovered during the pandemic was realizing my love of the beach in winter. I prefer the mountains, the forests, and while I’ve always loved the ocean, I never found it to be an enjoyable experience in the summer months because its crowded with people. I like the forest because I like the feeling of not seeing anyone, being around more trees than people. My husband and I spent a few weeks at the beach during the winter and for the first time I really fell in love with it. There was no one around for miles.
DG: A lot of these images suggest suspending or holding time differently, which we’ve all done at some point in the pandemic. Now that we’re being urged to return to so-called normality, has your own thinking on time changed?
I think I’ve lived out of time for a while now. I have extreme anxiety when it comes to traveling, even traveling locally. That has put me at a huge disadvantage when it comes to things like holding down a job. For the last few years I’ve been working from home because that’s the only way I can make a living. I also live in the sticks so I don’t see many people. My life was basically the same before, during, and after the pandemic. I wake up with the sun, I observe the cycles of the moon and of the seasons, and I think maybe other people got on that wavelength in the past year as well. One of the most pleasant things I do is wake up, make some coffee, then sit outside and watch the birds as they eat and sing. Or just watching clouds go by. Or watching the wind blow through the grass. These simple pleasures are eternal. Most people don’t have the attention span to find these things enjoyable, but maybe now they will see that it’s the little things in life that are often the most beautiful.
DG: What have you learnt about healing and renewal from the pandemic that you hadn’t previously encountered?
For the first time in my life, I felt ahead of the curve when the pandemic hit. I went through a difficult 7 year period prior that involved a lot of tragic deaths in my family, serious illnesses and loss of life, loss of jobs, loss of housing, financial ruin. By the time the pandemic hit everyone seemed so afraid of the things I already experienced. As difficult as it was at the time, I got through it. Life really does go on. I was in a position to help other people get through the emotional and psychological effects of the pandemic.
A phone call can actually make a dent in someone’s life. Most people just want to know that they aren’t alone. It seemed like people were really making an effort to reach out to friends via Zoom/FaceTime and I hope we continue to do that. I’ve been calling people more, making more of an effort to let the people I care about know that I’m here for them. I’m going to keep that up.