Wow! I am completely overwhelmed thinking how to organize my thoughts about what I witnessed of the protests following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer only 3.5 miles from my house here in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - a state until now best known for its cold, snowy winters and for fishing in summer on its more than 10,000 bucolic lakes.
I briefly attended the site of the protests and murder on Friday, May 29th - four days after Floyd died. I had not seen the videos of his arrest and knew of what was happening primarily through radio news reports on Minnesota Public Radio. My brief attendance gave me the feeling that I needed to see more so I went back to Chicago and 38th about midday on Saturday the 30th on my bike.
The peaceful gathering in the intersection was attended by a vast assortment of people who seemed to have come for the same reason I had — to find out what had happened on their own. I felt like a tourist and most of the people attending seemed to be tourists. Almost everyone wore a mask, so meetings and conversations were considerably inhibited. I biked around for a while to find out how extensive the protests had been.
Damage was much more extensive than I had realized. I saw burned-out stores, buildings and cars all over a half mile long stretch of Lake Street and over an even longer stretch of University Avenue in St. Paul, the twin of our Twin Cities and Minnesota’s capital.
I visited the sites of protest damage again on Sunday and helped clear concrete debris from a sidewalk. Thousands of other people were out with brooms doing the same thing. Most seemed to be doing completely inconsequential activities like sorting glass from brick, but what was amazing was the spirit of community effort.
During my outings I took pics and made some quick sketches. I might have left it there had I not gotten a message from Isolation Collection curator Robert Carrithers asking if I’d like to participate in Description of a Struggle. Robert and I had been acquainted 35 years ago in the Lower East Side of Manhattan where we both participated in the activities of a small, underground, creative club called Club 57. Then, in 2017 and 2018, we contributed art to an exhibit about the artistic activities of Club 57 at MoMA.
So these are some of my impressions of the struggle I witnessed here during the first news event to break the pandemic’s global lock on the media.
Brooklyn, New York
I gave birth to my son Phoenix in an ambulance on February 13, 2020. My good luck rainbow Valentine baby came on one of the unluckiest years I have ever witnessed the universe go through. I have not left my home in 3 months during this pandemic. I am indoors with my newborn son 24/7 alone until his father gets off of work. This piece is an acrylic painting on a 18 x 24 sheet of sketch paper. I had all the materials at home already and made use of the reality of being in isolation. Unable to go to the store as I didn’t want to risk catching the virus and certainly didn’t want to send anyone to select a canvas for me I made due with what I had. This self portrait reflects my thoughts and fears about COVID19 coupled with the reality of the times we are living in. The political climate is at an all time high regarding the matters of racism post George Floyd’s murder and as a black woman in America and mother to a black son I feel these thoughts emanating from the core of my soul. I created this piece oftentimes with my son in my lap as I breastfed him. The emotions I feel being a new mother in this time is incredible. Life as we know it will never be the same and dare Eye say I am excited.
spun in my cocoon, warm and comfortable
like under water
no past, no future -
If a situation cannot be changed, it is best to make friends with it and take a new perspective.
So I did in the time of the lock down.
And little by little I didn't feel isolated at all.
It's rather the feeling of freedom and independence. The calm gives me strength to recharge my batteries and concentrate on myself.
No pressure and no outside expectations.
Observing nature gives me certainty. Things come and go.
I imagine what it would be like to go on like this. For how long would I be happy with the situation? I'm not afraid of it at the moment.
Possibly the slow reopening comes too quickly for me. And the absurd struggle in the world of competition and dependencies starts again soon.
A few month ago, I started to create the video that was supposed to be the background for a live performance. I stopped working on it, because during the lock down there was no possibility anyway, to present the live performance.
I then decided to show the performance in front of the camera and combined the background video with the documentation of the performance.
…the way things turn out…
Video: 9:45 min / Live Performance: 15 min
The lockdown in Dubai, UAE and the whole situation definitely has supported Zoha to sharpen her skills on art, we as her parents are surprised glimpsing her work done during this period.
Zoha has always been very passionate about art and crafts, in fact art is everything to her, it had always been her way of expressing herself.
She loves pop art.
SOUL SISTA #1
Character: Soul Sista #1
Super powers: LOVE, TRUTH, SOUL
LOVE Power Gives Soul Sista #1:
1. The ability to generate an impenetrable force field of love
2. The ability to know the answer to all problems
3. The ability to transcend time and space
4. The ability to transform hate into love
5. The ability to detect & heal pain
6. The ability to kick hate's ass
TRUTH Power Gives Soul Sista #1:
1. The ability to free the mind from illusions
2. The ability to stand the test of time
3. The ability to detect a lie in 2 seconds
4. The ability to destroy lies on contact
5. The ability to be self-evident
6. The ability to TELL it LIKE IT IS
SOUL Power Gives Soul Sista #1:
1. The ability to see the One Life Force in everyone
2 The ability to communicate telepathically with all forms of life
3. The ability to animate matter
4. The ability to communicate with the heart of Creation
5. The ability to be one with all Creation
6. The ability to shape-shift into any form of Life
Mission: To spread love, defeat lies with truth, protect every soul manifesting as humans and all other forms of life
Arch Enemy: The Bully with a thousand faces who seeks to harm, intimidate, humiliate, or coerce someone it perceives as vulnerable, smaller, weaker or younger.
Legend: Orphaned during the last stand of the Black Panthers, Soul Sista #1 acquired her powers by putting on her mothers cuff bracelet
Soul Sista #1’s secret identity is Linda Tolbert, Mild Mannered Montessori kindergarten teacher, youth club manager and author.
<< Photo Credit: Melissa Davis
SOUL SISTA # 1 - Short Film
Starring Linda Tolbert and Jahari Robbins | Producer: Linda Tolbert | Director: Sheba Legend | Director of Photography: Sheba Legend | Original Score: Danny Briottet (RSW) vocals, Linda Tolbert | Production Design: Raymond S. James | Editors: Darren Richardson, Linda Tolbert | Costumes: Jean Laidman Designs | Story: Linda Tolbert | Newscaster: Rich Thompson | Stunt Coordinator: Darren Richardson | Stunt Choreographer: Raymond S. James | Stunt People: Elvis Lopez, Raymond James, Wise Wayne | Creative Director: Desmond Cadogan | Makeup: Connie Fleming | Accessories: Giselle Quietfire May | Photos: Melissa Davis, Giselle Quietfire May, Jean Laidman
This work is part of a series of artworks produced during the quarantine caused by COVID 19, and investigates the charged magnitude of what the world is currently experiencing, ranging from pandemic outbreak, racial divide, migration, global environmental depreciation, to armed conflict.
Biggy sits in his big glass office in the Guluzone jungle gazing at the vast lake through the window and green forest. He reaches out and dials his assistant. Melody picks up after one ring.
"Inform all twelve council members that we shall be having an emergency meeting next week Friday here at the headquarters. Dr.Wu has just come up with a potent that is going to change the Universe as a whole. All discussions about decreasing the population and longevity is now going to come into fruition."
He hangs up the phone and calls Dr.Wu who picks up and with a shaky voice says,
"Sir, I have some bad news for you! As I was preparing to put the serum into the safe, I went out for a brief call and forgot to lock the door to the lab, my assistant accidentally opened the jar. Unfortunately, I'm not sure how much of the molecules escaped into the atmosphere, we are now closing the unit and asking our researchers to go home until we can verify how much of the substance has leaked into the atmosphere."
Biggy stands up and puffs,
"What do you mean there has been an accident? I am about to convene a meeting of the most powerful men on the planet to give them the good news, and now this!"
He slams the phone down and calls his assistant to cancel the meeting, wondering what to do next.
Within seconds, his phone rings and a voice on the other side and asks him to turn on the news. The research center is on fire; Dr Wu is seen running out with a briefcase.
Breaking News strikes in: There has been an atomic leak into the atmosphere and everyone is advised to stay in their homes. Experts warn that this leak can wipe out the whole of humanity so no one is allowed to
leave their home until we find a solution. You are advised to wear masks and no contact among humans is allowed outside your houses.
He switches to another channel and there are medical workers dressed in what looked like space suits piling dead bodies onto trucks, people are dying in grooves on the streets, he switches off the TV and calls Dr,Wu.
There was no answer.
The painting is about a gang of girls, who are stronger by being together. They adapt to the situation and use face masks as fashion. They refuse to give up because of Corona and they still care about their style. A bat is living in the house where they also live and work, but they found a good relationship with the world outside. They don't lose hope! This painting is dedicated to those who do not give up hope and find a way to adapt and make a negative into a positive.
Toxic Paradise series
If our lives are composed of multi-sensory experiences where neither sense is separate, then why are artists not aspiring to recreate and reference that reality? Why not capture life in art and art in life?? Why not reinforce text with images? Why not combine image, text and sound? Why not combine sound, image, smell and text?
If you experience a car crash, isn’t it true that the sounds, visuals and smells of the crash are inseparable from the overall experience of the crash?
If that is our reality, that all the senses contribute to create an experience, that experiences are MULTI- sensory, then why don’t artists develop the methodologies to fuse all our senses when creating?
Until this century, a century of technological explosion, it has never before been possible to integrate our senses. We now have technology at our fingertips: motion detectors,video projectors, holograms, computer imaging systems and sound systems. Smart phones are recognized as creative tools.
The Futurists, Constructivists, Dadaists, Cubists, Fluxists aspired to project into the future. Technology was important. These artists aspired to bridge the divide between the disciplines.
The times in which we now live have enabled us to exponentially combine the senses and the arts as never before. It is our burden as well as our responsibility to invent the future. Be part of the movement!
Kill the Dandies!
As artists who work partly at home, we are used to feeling isolated and lonely. Still, it's frustrating when you can't see your friends because you can't. We were grateful for the opportunity to shoot the video at home with only the director (Šimon Šafránek), cameraman (Zbyněk Kunc) and our band. The band is like an extended family and if you can't play live from day to day, not even in the rehearsal room, you miss it.
We have been preparing this video for almost the entire quarantine period. It was filmed in Prague in our living room. The two of us (La Petite Sonja and Hank J. Manchini) made masks, an altar from branches and, in fact, all the props. Hank brought a huge number of twisted willow branches from our garden and took them up the stairs to the 4th floor. But we didn't know until the last minute if we could shoot. We all have small children, we don't just decide for ourselves. It was filmed until the end of the quarantine and we were all happy to meet like this.
This video is like an end of quarantine party. Although the text is about an intense feeling of loneliness.
I MAY EVEN DANCE
lyrics by La Petite Sonja
Oh my Love
You don't know
I look with your eyes
I listen with your ears
I taste with your mouth
You don't know
wake me up at night
I'm scared of them
and I don't know why
Oh my Love
all your pain,
it hurts, you know
I'm a part of your brain
Why don't you let me
why don't you let me
why don't you let me feel any of your joys?
Oh my Love
come to me as mine
And then I don't know
how to handle your crime
Oh my Dear
would be so peaceful & calm
I'd be so happy
maybe I would even dance
Why don't you let me
why don't you let me
why don't you let me feel any of your joys?
I May Even Dance
Artwork and Set Design: La Petite Sonja & Hank J. Manchini
Idea: La Petite Sonja, Hank J. Manchini & Šimon Šafránek
Director & Editor: Šimon Šafránek
Photography: Zbyněk Kunc
Music: Kill The Dandies! / Lyrics: La Petite Sonja
DREAM WEAVER (For 'Description of a struggle')
The hiss and spit, the hit and miss,
deciphering the struggle,
the tug of war,
between my ears,
Sharing infected air and an anxious beer,
because fun now makes me nervous,
The new normal replaces the last new normal,
which may or may not become a newer strain of normal,
which is, in itself, abnormal,
Nobody knows, nobody will ever know
if nature coughs, will she blow our faces off,
into kingdom come, like a bullet fired at the sun?
Controlling the uncontrollable,
under lock and key; too long or not long enough,
for him and her and you and me,
him and her, you and me?
We're busy ironing out the creases in our new straightjackets,
counting up to zero, making imaginary enemies
and influencing no one,
Planting phantom limbs so we can grow an organic army
who'll reverse their roles, and hang us by our own recycled nooses,
because overtime pays double at the weekend,
Can't smile, won't smile, in that corner, of that field,
the domain of the ego testicle, and queen bee who eats her babies,
Silence is the future is silent,
for him and her, and you and me,
him and her, you and me
This period of isolation almost didn't affect me.
I worked as usual and felt like an observer.
Information "noise" doesn't always help evaluate the situation correctly, or define the border between real life and false information, between real danger and exaggerated panic - like a bloated ball...
The Isolation Collection