Solidarity in Times of Pandemic Photo: Evgeniya Manerova

Solidarity in Times of Pandemic

November 2, 20205 minutes read

Written by:

Rabih Beaini

Share article:
We’ve witnessed distress and a great amount of turmoil in these last months, and it hadn’t been much nicer before all that.

When being asked to summon feelings about this exact moment in history, one can almost not remember the complications of our world right before it, the fires in Australia and California, the latest events seizing our attention right before Coronavirus broke out, were of colossal sizes and we barely remember them.
The fundamental core of our existence as artists is Ego, but “Us”, the conscious ones, learned slowly and gradually to let go of it, and we’re still acquiring the ways to dissolve it inside our practices, our daily life, through the course of our solidarity.
Photo: Evgeniya Manerova
Photo: Evgeniya Manerova
We live in a timeline constantly and exponentially augmenting, and our memory and attention span is shortening. And this is the danger of the momentum, that we have the tendency to forget everything surrounding us, and we must not. This is the exact moment to start paying attention. Our closest people are separate from us, our beloved are distant, and we need to keep an eye on them, even if we are in the worst struggle of our own lives. But it doesn’t stop at our closest ones, the attention starts to span elsewhere, as if something new was triggered in us. This new feeling is first focused onto our immediate surrounding, and circle of friends and family. We wrote to everyone everywhere, trying to have an update on their situation, then we started piling up our imminent supplies for the obscure future coming toward us, with extreme care of not drying those supplies wherever we found them, there was someone else in more need of access to them. Then came the first “neighbourhood” relief, old and weak persons who needed supplies were supported by volunteers on bikes swarming the streets, with their apps and websites, like Civil Defence units in times of war. And then our attention started to narrow down to our scene, the Artists, the venues, the operators.

As artists, our lives have been dragged out of normality the moment we’ve chosen to dedicate ourselves to the oblivious, uncertain path we have designed for ourselves, and we should never question this choice. Nobody should regret having chosen a different path than his surroundings, because this is exactly where we fail. We fail by acknowledging that we do something that is not indispensable, that it’s not a primary necessity. Art and Culture are not only to be preserved, they are the fundamental core of our society’s minds and hearts and the shield against populism and fascism. I have lived the Berlusconi years in Italy, and I saw how culture was demonised, dismantled and this led to a part of the country struggling for years to reestablish a cultural scene from the bottom up, while the rest of it bowed to populist ideas and created a barrier between them and common sense.

Most of us have looked at activism as a utopia, an unreachable world of abnegation, in fact it is far simpler, more natural and instinctive than we think. It’s simply caring, and putting ourselves in a position where this empathy starts addressing tangible and concrete issues, however small and invisible they can be, someone in our surrounding might have. We cannot always control change, but we can control the way it affects us. We can rule the way it comes to us and shape it in ways we can live longer with, because change will keep coming. And the way we can dominate it is with activism, because opening our eyes means opening our hearts and disposing of our ego. We thrive with Ego, the fundamental core of our existence as artists is Ego, but “Us”, the conscious ones, learned slowly and gradually to let go of it, and we’re still acquiring the ways to dissolve it inside our practices, our daily life, through the course of our solidarity.
Photo: Evgeniya Manerova
Photo: Evgeniya Manerova
Our solidarity grew exponentially in the times of pandemic, and the significant moments of crisis we lived individually, as collectives, as a scene, but mostly in different states of existence. This growth became also part of a creative process, especially in the music scene. Labels, artists, musicians and promoters started to find ways for support, others simply joined the campaigns and put whatever was left in their pockets into that. I’ve seen musicians who earn so few from gigs in normal times, scraping the bottom of their savings to help NGOs, legal funds and individuals in literally the worst times to be a musician, and it’s impressive. When normally solidarity is a practice to support others with whom we recognise a kind of similarity, in the latest months a new side has developed, the side of universality and politicisation. This can lead to a new form of anarchy, an independent structure that is based on a variable income, and a variable outcome. We learned how to practice our arts by following examples, and learning by ourselves how to develop our skills, our businesses, and how to sell our products with no real schooling behind, because it’s impossible to learn our craft in a school. The sole idea of creation is liberty, we are free and feel free for a long time and this freedom is what will save us. We should know the power of our creations, on an economical and political level, and the real figures that stand behind our wide operations, as individual artists, collectives and structures are often unrecognised by the economical system, because they’re hidden, often unrecognised and more recently demonised. So we try to contrast an economical system that doesn’t recognise us as artists but as a production system, by growing our solidarity structure in a fully independent, often anarchist way.

The music environment is often if not most of the time based on collective works and collaborations. This created a practice of sharing that contrasted any other Art environments, let alone any other practice and work. Musicians normally have to collaborate for survival, for creativity and for advancement of the scene around them. Musicians are also often closely related to the structures they work with. A relationship of continuity is necessary for an independent artist’s income, which is another reason for the evolution of their solidarity towards colleagues, structures, and other collectives. Without them there’s no continuity, and the frail system of independent musicians will fall apart, become odd, risky, unhealthy.

This is also extended by effect to the other scenes, where it becomes obvious that individualism and solitude in the art field has its limitations, and collectivism is the future. The widespread use of this thought might lead to a more universal understanding, in an ideal world, or to a more isolated collectivity, a new anarchic system further more interested in activism than the core recognition of the “system”.

Organising the self, the collective and the scene is a responsibility now. Learning the ways of the lobbies, the organised structures while keeping the integrity of the operations is the future for all independent artists and collectives. It’s time to organise solidarity, create representation and reference points, and a way to unify the efforts globally. This is called survival, and solidarity is the only path to follow in order to save what is left in the scene.

*This article is part of the project Music & Conversations in the Attic, co-financed by AFCN.
About the Author

Rabih Beaini

Lebanese-born producer and DJ Rabih Beaini (formerly known as Morphosis) specializes in grainy, imaginative analogue techno. Since 2005, he's managing Morphine, a record label presenting key (and often overlooked) voices in avant-garde electronic and outernational music.

Morphine Records
Share this Article
Next Article

Song For My Father

As things return to “normal”, its likely most of us understand that some things will never be the same.

Garth Cartwright
More Articles

Home and Music

Mothers know everything, they even invented a language of themselves.

Maria Balabaș

Attuning Temporality

Hearing is a complex neurological process whereas listening is a selective learnt process, an ongoing tuning in and out, dynamic; mental and physically demanding.

Lara C. Geary

Pricked Up Ears. A Lockdown Listening

Why am I happy to listen to beauty when I know that my culturally trained ears are just a better tool?

Anamaria Pravicencu