Can art survive during pandemic and isolation? “How past centuries might have dealt with the pandemic and isolation”? I am focusing here on the psychological aspect of the pandemic, the sanity of people, the effect of the pandemic on people’s psyche.
Black death and plague which turned out to be the worst enemy of human in past centuries. Due to the lack of scientific investigations, the cause of the disease was not known to them. The terror and panic are evident in paintings and artworks. When the humans were not able to solve the mystery of what is causing the disease humans turned to faith and God. The intercessors were looked upon for help to convey their plea to God.
The intercessors were preached to protect the human, many paintings were painted of these intercessors like the Virgin, St. Michael, St. Sebastian, St. Roch, S.Carlo Borromeo and others. The spiritual remedies were proclaimed by the church, many Italian painting of this time reflect the proposed recommendations. The prayers to intercessors, confession, public processions, fasting and charity etc. were portrayed in the paintings of that time. Meditation, faith and religion were given importance at that time in the scarcity of scientific investigations.
In southern India, the goddess Mariamman or Mari goddess is also famous as the mother of rain and curing disease. Mariamman is often depicted as a beautiful young woman with a red-hued face, wearing a red dress. Holding trident in her hand and bowl (kapala) in the other. The north India Shitala Devi is worshipped forwarding of the disease-related to fever. Shitala Devi or Jvarasura is preached throughout north India. She portrayed as a woman sitting on a donkey holding broom, a water pot that signifies “the medicinal water” and a hand fan. Sometimes she is also depicted holding neem leaves (Azadirachta indica).
Lexically Isolation means to isolate i.e lack of contact with people. During the pandemic confinement and isolation is not only for the affected person but for everyone. People who work from home, the students who study online, the dissolving boundaries between personal and professional life of the individual. Public and private and personal and collective is to again look upon in contemporary time and pandemic scenario.
Countries that are coming out of confinement, isolation and lockdown are working towards bringing back the normal life with COVID 19. The flash mobs like ‘Danse encore’ at Gare du Nord in Paris is bringing back the hope in the people to have faith in humanity and kindness. To sing and dance as life goes on.
Disclaimer: The views expressed are personal.
Dr. Richa Navani, received Ph.D from Delhi University. She is a Visual artist and Art Educationist.