Photo: Thomas Venker
One of my first thoughts when the lockdown started was: ‘How will I – a very social person by profession as much as personality – handle this enforced curtailing of my social activity?’
Well, how little I knew in those early hours and days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not long after my calendar was packed with an endless supply of video conferences (in apps blissfully unknown to me until the virus came into my life), WhatsApp calls and old fashioned phone calls. Where before this brutal intervention you used to be able to shunt things off into emails without any thought, suddenly it felt inappropriate as of course talking in person to one another is such a different thing, much more emotional and vital right now.
But then again, how often is one able to share the same feelings and experiences with real and honest emotions over and over again, not to mention the loss of concentration you get after talking for hours in these ways. There have been many days within the last four weeks of being home, besides a daily run and two weekly grocery errands, where I was simply at the end of my ability to talk socially. I’ve found the need to deliberately switch off the phone, not check mails constantly, just to allow the isolation its reality (or at least some shadow version of it). I feel a bit weird doing so. But then again it’s also in the knowledge that there are so many other things to do.
Is it only me, or are we all working twice as hard since Corona hit town? But of course not as productively and focused as we used to be (or at least thought we were). Now we spend our days planning and communicating these plans with everybody. And on top we have to put in the work of rescheduling things that honestly, we don’t know will even ever now take place. One has to keep going, right? Otherwise the dark clouds take over and we should be wary of that. And so we all wonder: When will this be over in the fullest sense? When are we able to travel and meet people and perform again?
What we know for sure, many of the established structures of the past, even some we thought are here for ever-ever will not exist anymore. The effects of this crisis (and we can only see the beginning of its effects thus far) will be significant for car companies, for banks, but even tougher (as we are not so systemically relevant (as they say) for the many small businesses that make up the cultural world.
Which clubs, venues, festivals, labels, promoters, magazines, writers, photographers and artists to name just a few of us will still be in business by the end of Corona times? Since the late 1970s, when punk changed the world and kicked off the DIY attitude of cultural existence, we saw a constant extension of independent and autonomous sub-cultural groups and structures. Now there is a certain degree of uncertainty of who will still have the faith and energy for this often tough DIY path, which spaces and programming ideas will survive the economic backlash of this mess.
Will there be a recession – well, it would be a wonder if not. A depression too? Will there be a high inflation rate, even hyperinflation? Or a deflation? I am not enough of an economist to go in depth here, but I am afraid of those processes and what they will do to all of us and the fragile cultural set-up we call cultural home.
The constant overflow of information doesn’t help either. In the modern social media world we see – and this is the opposite to isolation in the classic 20th century way – far too many self-appointed voices in direct competition and debate with each other. Not always with a constructive ethos, often ego-driven and not only with a non-negotiable attitude but also unable to listen to the theses, arguments and emotional landscapes of those around them.
It's been said before but I'll repeat it / Don't you feel like you've been cheated? / It's been shoved down your throats, you eat it / They say it's true, you believe it / Small parts isolated and destroyed / See the big boys play with their toys / There is one thing I will never do Trust you / There's one thing that I have learned / All God's children will get burned / And if it comes down to me or you / Who do you think I will choose? / What's the deal? 50% of the door? / Well, then, come on in, come on in for more / What's that you say, we get a guarantee? / Then fuck right off, you mean nothing to me / Isn't this a sweet romance / So why don't you get off your ass and dance?
Nomeansno Live - ”Small Parts Isolated And Destroyed”