IMMEMORY: Creative Responses to the Changing COVID-19 Crisis

A journal of my musings and creative responses to this rapidly evolving crisis.

June 6, 2020 | Protest

8minutesand46seconds

 

June 1, 2020 | Painting

On Freedom.

This piece is included in the ONLINE DRAWING EXHIBITION: DRAWINGS IN A TIME OF SOCIAL DISTANCING organized by LIC-A. On view online June 12 – August 12, 2020.

freedom-recolored

 

May 31, 2020 | Connected loneliness

Digital collage of my photography and drawing.

connected loneliness

May 29, 2020 | TEOTWAWKI

partyisover

Insecure, disrupted, upended, disoriented, deprived, restricted, groundless, afloat, overwhelmed, worried, furious, traumatic. That is, The End Of The World As We Know It. 

I’m interested in how our perception is constantly changing in face of uncertainty. Moving between despair and hope is pretty much the new normal. Who / What has helped you to ride out emotional weather lately?

 

May 12, 2020 | Musings

 

An Honest Question

An Honest Question

 

The following words by Pengcheng Zhang, edited by me.

At the beginning of January, China was dealing with a novel pathogen that was unknown to humankind. Towards the middle of February, China had implemented public policy measures that successfully stabilized a very dire situation in Wuhan, and also limited the further spread of the virus to other parts of the country.

Indeed there was mishandling of the initial response. There was a crucial two-week period in January when the local government of Wuhan set such stringent conditions for testing that it became effectively impossible to get people tested for the virus. Criticism is warranted, however, this has been held up and repeatedly touted in the Anglophone media as a glaring flaw of China’s authoritarian system, with the not so subtle implication that the acclaimed liberal democratic system (in which the vast majority of these organizations operated) was inherently superior.

Each coin has two sides. The same Chinese government also coordinated a comprehensive response to turn the tide in Wuhan and effectively contain the outbreak. Sadly, much of this effort is simply reported by the Anglophone media as a “lockdown”, often modified by the adjective “draconian”, which hints at their subjective attitudes.

The Chinese government, on the other hand, touts its success at containing a situation that threatened to spiral out of control as validation of its top-down centralized power structure. The Anglophone media decidedly rejects this narrative, preferring to focus on China’s initial failings.

To me, it seemed like the Anglophone media was implying that had China been more transparent about information in the beginning, it would have avoided the situation of Wuhan in the first place, ergo China’s comprehensive efforts are invalidated because it was essentially climbing out of a hole it dug for itself. It is also implied that such a disastrous situation would never come to pass in liberal democracies. However, to me it seems that the supposed “transparency” has not really materialized in the liberal democracies of Western Europe and North America. So it seems to me that the advantage of liberal democracies (“transparency”) did not truly prevent the situation from deteriorating to where Wuhan was in late January. Whereas the liberal democracies are ill-equipped to execute the measures that China took that have been proven effective (in absence of an effective drug or vaccine).

Throughout this time, coverage of China’s response in the Anglophone media was extremely selective, and highly politicized. And I believe as a consequence the threat of the novel Coronavirus was severely underestimated: China was having problems because it had an inferior political system. Surely the more superior liberal democracies would never let a situation like Wuhan happen. Nobody (at least not the people in positions of power) bothered to take a closer look at how the virus actually spread, or what China actually did to fight against it.

So here is an honest question to ask: Does freedom of speech save lives?

 

May 10, 2020 | Infected Instructions

As we are adjusting to the new normal, inevitably pain and stress are being felt. Infected Instructions is an online archive where people share their creative responses to the changing crisis through instructional art following the legacy of Fluxus event scores in the 1960s. This are my contributions to the online exhibition. Visit www.infectedinstructions.org to read more.

May 9, 2020 | A poem written in isolation

A short poem I wrote to express how I feel right now, in the face of extended city lockdown and prolonged quarantine life that millions of people in the New York City are experiencing. English translation is here.

stew_cn

 

April 6, 2020 | Curating on online exhibition

IMMEMORY: On COVID-19 is live at www.covid-immemory.com. Excited to launch an online exhibition aimed at co-curating with the public meaningful pieces that reflect thoughtfully on this unprecedented crisis.

Many of the issues unmasked by the current COVID-19 outbreak will remain with us throughout the 21st century. To name one, it’s becoming clear that our failures to understand other people and cultures’ perspectives are exacerbating prejudice and leading to catastrophic decisions. As the current COVID-19 outbreak is rapidly and profoundly shaking up the world, art remains a vital force to document history and above all, to cultivate empathy across cultures and ideologies.

Extreme situations emphasize the good and bad of humanities. I’m developing an online exhibition, “On COVID-19: IMMEMORY”, a collection of born-digital creations, memos, ideas, media posts, and fragments of our everyday life responding directly to the COVID-19 outbreak. The project aims to facilitate sharing of what we are living through and how we feel in the midst of this unprecedented moment.

“IMMEMORY” in the sense that the current crisis produces many artifacts that quickly get forgotten, that narratives are changing rapidly, that our perceptions are constantly shifting.

If you want to be part of this IMMEMORY collection, hashtag your posts with #covidimmemory to grant me permission to feature them in our online gallery.

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 12.23.16 PM

 

April 1, 2020 | High Fashion

high_fashion

 

March 27, 2020 | Sketches

Infodemic, Isocialation, Cancelled Events…

IMG_1429 copy

 

March 24, 2020 | Recent Paintings

In response to the tragedies happening around the world.

 

March 21, 2020 | Digital Collage

Created a digital collage portraying the moment. I’ve been reading and reflecting a lot recently on the China-US relationship and its implications in this pandemic.

uschina.jpeg

 

March 16, 2020 | Trump’s Twitterverse

President Trump @realDonaldTrump is following 47 accounts on Twitter, a collection of family members, conservative pundits, administration officials and Trump-brand properties who collectively creating an obvious echo chamber.

When President Trump opens his own Twitter feed, he scrolls through something that offers a very different assessment about the pandemic and how the Trump administration is doing.

What do they say about the pandemic? How does President Trump’s social media bubble look like? To find it out, I created a Twitter account solely for the reason of following the exact same 47 accounts that President Trump are following.

In a nutshell, from the Trump’s perspective: 

Narrative #1:  I’m doing a great job

Narrative #2:  This is China’s fault 

Narrative #3:  Dems would be worse

Narrative #4:  The media (excluding Fox News) is fueling the panic

Narrative #5:  But there is no reason to panic because I’m doing a great job

 

Btw, Twitter @QuietTrump, password: quietdonaldtrump1You may login to this account too.

 

Feb 8, 2020 | In Memorial of Dr Li Wenliang

Live at this link is a piece of net art I created in memorial of COVID-19 whistleblower Dr Wenling Li.

The Backstory of Dr Li & COVID-19 at its early stage:

On 30 December 2019, Dr Li Wenliang posted in his medical school alumni group on the Chinese messaging app WeChat that seven patients from a local seafood market had been diagnosed with a SARS-like illness and were quarantined in his hospital in Wuhan. He sent a message to fellow doctors in a chat group warning them to wear protective clothing to avoid infection. Four days later he was summoned to the Public Security Bureau where he was told to sign a letter. In the letter he was accused of “making false comments” that had “severely disturbed the social order”. He was one of several medics targeted by police for trying to blow the whistle on the deadly virus in the early weeks of the outbreak.

Dr Li later contracted the virus himself. He was hospitalized on January 12 and tested positive for the coronavirus on February 1. On February 7, a wave of anger and grief flooded Chinese social media site Weibo when news of Dr Li’s death broke. Many posted under the hashtag “Can you manage, do you understand?” – a reference to the letter Dr Li was told to sign where he was accused of disturbing “social order”. The top two trending hashtags on the website were “Wuhan government owes Dr Li Wenliang and apology” and “We want freedom of speech”. Both hashtags were quickly censored.