Covid Coordinates – Veronica Shimanovskaya

When I look at my sculpture every morning, and understand what I need to do next, it doesn’t mean that it will be done today or even tomorrow, because tomorrow a thought may trigger an afterthought that would make the previous one more clear or more actionable, or render it obsolete. What a luxury, I think, no pressure of an exhibition date, or any kind of date at all. Time has stopped. It’s a pandemic. 


Coordinates, 2020. Steel, aluminium, silk.

Time and space have become a confining substance, molasses thick enough to come to a standstill, a dirty puddle around which life revolves, and not necessarily the one I would choose for myself. I am confined in the San Francisco Bay Area suburb, Vallejo, that gained international notoriety for its police brutality.

Coordinates, 2020. Steel, aluminium, silk

The shocks and tribulations of society have become a usual backdrop for daily dramas. As they get dirtier and uglier every day, they drift further and further into my peripheral vision. I wish they would dissolve completely, so the world can magically restore its lustre. In any case, marching for justice has become a routine activity, a duty to be just another body in the crowd, to make it larger. My focus though is where it should be – the art.

This work used to be called ‘Coordinates’, but now, because nobody knows when real shows in the real physical world will be possible, it makes no sense to make decisions. These conditions are unusual, and interesting to explore. The initial inspiration came from the search for an anchor in a sea of troubles, it sprung from a small work done for Miniscule, a show for the 2019 Venice Biennale (curated by Vanya Balogh) and Glass Bead Game, a Herman Hesse novel, a childhood favourite. What art comes to life in the absence of pressure, in total freedom unbounded by time? The name was relevant then, it is relevant now, and the sheer arbitrariness of our lives unfolding in circumstances beyond our control, calls for some coordinates…Chess? Thought is material.

Wilbur Park 2020, watercolour, paper

To take a break from the ever-increasing pressure to stay put, I took my brushes and watercolours to Wilbur National Park for a blissfully internet- and phone-free two days, where we encountered deer, hares and mineral springs. Isolated even more! Down the rabbit hole! There, there…but without the internet I can’t do my work—not art, but a design consulting job that pays for my tickets to Europe, and elsewhere in the world—so I had to return to my computer and my phone, work, do some art reflection, and finish a video piece entitled ‘2020’.

https://vimeo.com/442862315

Wilbur Park 2020, watercolour, paper

While I was playing with my new MIDI device doing a soundtrack for ‘2020’, I got an invitation to participate in a charitable music project, Tiny Band in the Rainforest and was happy to submit my soundtrack Indonesian Procession composed for the occasion: 

https://tinybandintherainforest.bandcamp.com/

track/indonesian-procession

I have also started a series of paper sculptures, and I now find myself without space to accommodate all the work. All of this should be shown some day, that’s why I am planning to have a personal show as soon as the apocalipsis is over. What will come after that? 2020 is shaping to be a year full of disasters, irresponsible political leaders, financial troubles, and climate crisis. California is on fire literally and figuratively, and so seems the world. 

Wilbur Park 2020, Watercolour, paper

Ephemereye, the up and running platform that I am developing with my business partner, has even more relevance. Video art is gaining ground, or screen space, as our lives merge more and more into the virtual realm. When the pandemic struck, political turmoil was on for a while. I placed an Open Call for Artists on a topic fitting well with our times: Plague and Locusts 2020. There is a lot of good work that came our way.

We are hosting a virtual show on ephemereye.com. The call is still open: https://www.ephemereye.com/call-for-artists 

Participate! It also has a portfolio-making feature, so if you work with moving image, come and build your page on https://www.ephemereye.art/

Shocks & Tribulations 2020, Paper

What has changed for me? Nothing and everything. I have always combined my design, my art, and my curatorial work. I still work from home, but I can’t travel. European borders are closed for Americans, which means I can’t see and hug my friends in Italy, Germany or the UK, and that saddens me more than anything else. I wish the pandemic would stop, but it has brought a lot of societies’ hidden malaise to the surface, and they are now out in the open, as open wounds, which need to be tended to in order to heal. Will art save the world? Probably not, but it would help keep us afloat as, unlike in politics, ethics and authenticity are essential, and the stakes are always high. Perhaps an artist should be true to herself and make art, which may spread outside the artists’ reality and into the wild, in which we all live.

Writer, poet, working on expanded novel, making poetry with artists, putting work in unusual public places

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