"Flowershead" / Mai 2020 / Berlin
I started to paint 1 year ago when the first lockdown hit Berlin. Through my paintings, I could travel to gardens full of flowers and fill my mind with positivity. During the second lockdown, I decided that I wanted to be a full-time artist and I quit my office job. The pandemic helped me realized what I really want to do with my life and what makes me happy. This piece “Flowershead" has a special place in my heart as it is the first one I painted during the lockdown and the one that made me want to be an artist.
"Another Dimension" / September 2020 / Berlin
Gregor: When did you paint "Another Dimension"?
Martin Krusche: I painted the picture in September 2020. I had a lot of time for my own work during these months, because I had practically no commissions - it is a picture that I painted freely and without a particular goal in mind. In the mornings I looked after my children, in the afternoons I went to the studio every day.
G: How did you feel at that time, in autumn 2020?
M: I remember helplessness and uncertainty. I had the feeling that I could no longer understand the decisions of the politicians - and the developments in general. I just didn't understand it anymore. There was too much news and information that I could no longer make sense of. So at a certain point, I tried to switch off. I went along with it all, but I didn't question things anymore.
G: Is it chaos in your picture?
M: Definitely a certain confusion and different elements that overlap and contradict each other. Yes, maybe it's chaos.
“Setty Mois” / June 2020 / Berlin
In general, I think the masks that people had to put on for the last year are a useful protection against the virus. Nevertheless, they bother me - if only because it's hard to breathe when you're wearing them. I photograph people and I miss seeing the faces, the expressions, the communication through looks. But masks also have an aesthetic, erotic quality. They create anonymity and distance - I like this insecurity, this game. A sexy body without a face creates insecurity and tension. That's why masks are an erotic fetish for some people. This aspect interests me - because eroticism and femininity always play a role in my photography. And as an artist, I let myself be inspired by the things that happen around me. That's how this motif came about. I wanted to de-dramatize the masks and give people back some optimism, to comment on the subject “Corona masks” with a little wink. If Corona, then like this!
"Prof. Dr. Christian Drosten" / April 2021 / Munich
I thought the podcast Mr. Drosten did at the beginning of the pandemic was good, because it really went into detail, one wanted to know everything as precisely as possible. So Drosten was a point of orientation for me. That's why I understand the painting as a small thank-you and I also portrayed Drosten a little heroically. But also with a certain sadness. It's the sadness that he talked his head off, but politics did not listen to him. Science was denied because economic interests and money always took first priority, unfortunately. I found the quote I wrote on the picture, "Ja, ist gut jetzt" - It's OK now - on Twitter. Drosten was responding to a Corona denier and I think it shows the resignation of many scientists. When you research something so intensively like Dr. Drosten and then warn and get invested, but the warnings are not taken seriously because there are people who want to profit from it - that must be frustrating.
"Dreaming" / January 2021 / Berlin
Gregor: Can you describe the time in which this collage was created?
Maily Nguyễn: Last winter, I was at home alone a lot, just by myself. This was due to the Berlin winter, but the lockdown has intensified this situation even more. I felt like traveling all year round, but especially in January. So I looked at travel catalogues because I had wanderlust. Then I found this giant somewhere - a print from another time. It has something nostalgic about it. All in all, it wasn't necessarily the happiest time in my life. I didn't feel that way in the moment, but in retrospect, when I look at my work from that time, I see something dark, nostalgic.
G: Do you see anything positive about Corona?
M: Yes, I have learned a lot during this time. I see how marginalised groups have raised their voices, people around me have become more politicised. Perhaps we have learned to reflect our own privileges and to be more caring towards our fellow human beings. People of my generation have started to think about how to shape the future, there are many who want to take responsibility now. This movement has gained momentum through the Corona period.
G: And for you personally?
M: It was not an easy time, but now with a clear head and a distance, I see that for me some things have changed for the better. Because the lockdown gave me time to try new things. For example, I realized how much I love making collages.
Catherine Mamani Valles
"Hope in rays of hope" / June 2020 / Berlin
The series was created on a hot summer day at Teufelssee. It was a spontaneous shooting, the first photo project after a long break. I felt quite lost at that time for several reasons. On the one hand, I realized that I wouldn't be able to travel to India as planned to study and become a yoga teacher. It was a feeling of being powerless that I had never experienced before. In addition, I had dropped out of my studies and had not yet dared to tell my parents. On that June day at the lake, I didn't yet know what story I wanted to tell. It wasn't until I put the pictures into a chronology that I realized they were actually telling an optimistic story. The man in the water rises out and thus finds some light. My situation was indeed difficult and quite different from what I had wished for - but I did not drown. And this is how I want to look to the future from now on: more trust and less hope. Hope includes doubting and fear. I am no longer choosing fear, I choose love - and I trust.
"Liquid Acid #840crop3" / January 2021 / Bangkok
The photo series that I make, are usually taken in remote places. It may be a quiet island in the Pacific, or a remote clearance in a tropical jungle. Sometimes I travel several days to reach a special location. It was therefore challenging when I found out that I had to go into strict quarantine after returning to Bangkok - locked in a room of a state authorized hotel. Luckily I had a room with river view and I spent hours just looking at the change of light and waves on the water. Especially at night the reflections, when colourfully neon-lit boats pass by, are beautiful. Then I ordered a 600mm lens to capture these reflections. The Chao Phraya River is one of the dirtiest rivers in the world, a brown broth during the day. But at night, looking through the tele lens, the always changing lights were really mesmerizing. Soon I started to recognize the sound of the boats and I focused on the perfect waves and reflections. Then I just pulled the trigger and must have taken a few thousand shots from the same position - yet, every picture is different. There is no editing in the images - it's just the view out of the quarantine window, photographed with 1/80 and high ISO.
Mein Lieber Prost
"Work From Home" / May 2020 / Bali
As the pandemic situation got worse and without an end in sight, I decided to make some good use of my money before it was all gone and spent it on spray cans. With these, I started putting my protest on the streets of Bali. Corona had me going through phases: PHASE OF COMPLAINT - PHASE OF GRATITUDE - PESSIMISTIC PHASE- PHASE OF REBIRTH. It’s an ongoing process and it comes in waves, similar to the pandemic itself. "Stay at home“ and "Work from home“ became the mantra, the "new normal“. And I had to ask myself: How can I work from home as a street artist? My job is on the street, how am I supposed to work from home? The streets are the home of my art. So from this perspective, I’ve always worked from home. I’ve always worn a mask while working. And yet, everything has changed. And I went outside and saw people who lost their homes, who lost their jobs. It really got me thinking and in the broad daylight, I took my cans to put the question on the wall : „Which home? What work?"
"Demut" / March 2021 / Munich
Developments that I have been observing with concern for many years have become much clearer through Corona - and they have further intensified. Screen consumption has increased, which makes people even more stupid. This is empirically proven. During last year people spent even more time in the digital world, watched even more Netflix. That consumes resources and energy. These technologies have a string of consequences: rare earth metals that are mined, slave labour, the immense power consumption by the big servers. We know that the planet has problems, but people are addicted to pointing at others instead of changing things in their own life. So we deprive ourselves of the basis of life. Pandemics are just an additional danger for humankind. I see the limits we are reaching, and they are closer than we thought. But instead of taking care of these vital tasks, everyone wants to have a say. It is laziness and vanity that blinds people. Vanity used to be one of the deadly sins: it's now a business model. Being a journalist used to be a real profession: we now have influencers everywhere. Just displays all over the place… It is hubris to believe that we can simply solve the problems we have caused. We believe that all we need is a new invention and everything will be okay again. But that won't work: the damage is enormous. Besides, most people are still not willing to limit themselves. But this is urgent if we want to survive as humankind. But it is useless to preach. I can only exemplify a different life. I can ride a bike and no longer eat meat, no longer fly. Being an example, that's the only way. And with art, maybe I can make people think, make a recommendation. Hence the title of this painting: Demut = Humility. Humility to one's not-knowing. “I know that I know nothing” - Socrates. That is humility. And I hope for more humility towards the fragility of life - which is now suddenly visible to everyone.
"Faye" / March 2021 / Berlin
As I mainly show my art on the street, sticking it on walls, the door to the city has always remained open a little bit. It's not only in times of Corona that you need freedom - but in that year so many paths were blocked, so much was forbidden. Especially for art and culture, it was a time of locked doors. Luckily, I have the street as my escape. And the fox Faye became my only, fully free contact with the outside world.”
"Food" / June 2021 / Berlin
I chose this picture because it is the description of a perfect meal for me: Ramen, beer and something sweet for dessert. Last year, I spent a lot of time with a friend in an apartment in Berlin. We were both far away from home and to pass the quarantine we played cards and ate. We tried many new dishes and kept improving our cooking skills. When I started drawing as a child, I was influenced by Japanese anime. I watched a lot of manga, like Sailor Moon or Slum Dunk when I was in school in Santiago de Chile. I think they inspired my work as a graphic designer, but also my interest in Japanese food may have come from that. So last winter we made Ramen ourselves and found that it's easy to make and really delicious. I hope this poster finds a place in a kitchen - as a reminder to indulge in good food, to cook your favorite dish or to treat yourself with a Pie de Limón. It doesn't take that much to feel at home.
"Euphoros III" / February 2021 / Berlin
I painted “Euphoros III” at a time when there were few distractions, everything was closed and the days felt long and quiet. Corona was the overshadowing theme. Many people were afraid. Afraid of the disease or afraid for basic rights, even afraid of a dictatorship. I also felt this sense of threat and insecurity; such feelings are contagious. But I have been dealing with the question of subjective truth for a long time. So I tried to listen even more carefully to myself and asked myself how I actually react to the outside world and what creates my perspective. Because the things that happen outside of us, can control the inside and are ultimately only a trigger to activate already existing sensations. If we are not aware of this, we cannot influence and change anything. But if you understand how these mechanisms work, you understand that you yourself are responsible for how you perceive the world. Then you can change something on the inside and that becomes a reality on the outside. Do I believe in a friendly or vicious universe? If you walk through the world with a certain fear, then you will encounter it everywhere. But it is the same the other way around. This phenomenon was easy to verify in Corona times. The world can seem terrible to us, but also very beautiful. Whatever you expect, you will get, whatever you believe, you are right!