Covid-19 has prompted expressions of metamorphosis from eco activists, the media and big brands. At a time when the poor in Africa, Asia, the Americas & across our world are dying or being economically destroyed, we must beware of poeticizing this pandemic. At the time I write, the Amphan cyclone India & Bangladesh, the worst there since 1999, has caused the displacement of 3 million people. In broiling temperatures, homes, crops & roads have been swept away, hundreds killed and more injured – and all under Covid-19.
In the relatively secure West, the sudden crash of finances for freelancers or those been made redundant by their companies, has revealed the inherent vulnerability of our lives. Meanwhile, the safety of our hospitals and schools cannot be guaranteed. Older people are dying in care homes, unvisited by their family.
But humans want to live and thrive. The online DJ parties by ‘UnitedWeStream’ across countries, for example, are attended by thousands, raising money for the vulnerable in cities and to keep the clubbing industry afloat. In confined circumstances, artists are discovering new forms of creativity. Anxiety about paying the rent is forcing us to reconsider our resources and worldly activities. Capitalist priorities have stripped hospitals of the capacity to help as doctors and nurses would wish. Independent action is being taken. Aspirations can now dwindle to helping each other and ourselves to live peaceably. Some relationships are falling apart but others are deepening.
In this new state of affairs, the lyrics from the new track, ‘Innovation’ by Rising Damp, featured in our DJ mix by Caoimhe Lavelle, ring round our heads: “profound anxiety of … apocalyptic collapse or growth and innovation?” Many do not have the luxury of this choice. But even at our most despairing moments, it’s worth considering whether a retreat from our pre-Covid social obsessions is teaching us something. Any rebirth will cost lives. Equally, enforced passivity may develop a more empathic way of living. It may stir some to being more engaged with fighting injustice and others to being grateful for whatever remains.
In this issue, we bring together moments of artistic introspection from varying gender viewpoints and from past and present. I have been using the time to reconsider the robust and simmering art of Amrita Sher-Gil, a young genius who shook Paris and Lahore in the 1930s with her portraits of feminine solitude. Artist Tim Best joins us from Dallas, sharing his early-morning gender play. Coral Rose from the Silver Field talks vivid dreams, Kate Bush and Yeats with Caoimhe Lavelle. Hollie Miller reclaims the female nude in isolated spaces. And painter Joanna Kirk has created a special edition of her ‘Flowers Of The Future’ – creaturely, humanoid and vegetative – to stimulate our thoughts of heroic vulnerability. Take sustenance from these creative forces: you are not alone.
Love on ya,
Soma Ghosh, Editor
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Main image from ‘Sheltering The Whole Woman’, by Hollie Miller, photographed by Genevieve Lutkin.