In February of 2020 I arrived in Japan after the break out of the now known Coronavirus, reported deaths, contamination of this new virus, no one really knows what it does and how it affects people, but as I write this it has now spread worldwide and we are now seeing countries on a lock down, affecting commercial businesses small and large as well as the arts community. Theatres,Galleries, Pubs, Gig venues all being told to close. This has cause so much anxiety, it is something that most people have never experienced before.
For me one of the differences is the accessibility to information via the internet, which has the ability of spreading both real and fake news, poking the fire of insecurity, creating doubt and fear in a fragile society. Where do any of us go from here? Especially in the arts, where people depend on funding and support from art communities and councils, with funding withdrawn and access to create public work limited, presents us as artists a serious question about who we make art for? Does what we do really depend on money? Of course everyone needs to live, pay bills, have a roof over your head, clothes and eat, all the basics of lief'es essentials.
I feel we have an opportunity to explore what this is doing to us personally and also how it affects how we see things, as more lock downs are due over the coming weeks and months. The above photograph is one response from a performance I did in Japan, this was in Tokyo when I was travelling with a group of performance artists from all over the world, together we travelled and created a new performance in each city we travelled to. Gloves that we are issued to protect ourselves are filled with contaminated liquid, like a mad scientist the figure has a presence of one to fear than love, like the virus itself. Others artist also found the subject slipped into their performances. Wherever we went in Japan, we always had access to wash or use anti bacteria gel, surrounded by hundreds of people wearing masks, schools, universities, libraries, museums and other public places closed. Most cities we travelled to during this epidemic were seriously down in visitors as well as the theatres we performed in. I do not see this is a time to fear, but a time to reflect and take inspiration from it, as artists it is our job to explore, dig deep beneath the social consciousness and peel away the many complex layers that it presents us.
Below is a photograph of a performance I did in Nagano, this was our last performance of the NIPAF (Nipon International Performance Art Festival). I will let the image speak for itself.
Spike Mclarrity is a duration based conceptual performance artist.