Alyce Santoro (Providence, RI)
Video: 5” diameter cone-ball made from tracing paper. Background images cut from March 2020 issues of the Sunday New York Times.
Sound: 2 alto flute tracks, one Wurlitzer Electronic piano track.
Themes: resilience, creativity in the time of crisis, hope and imagining the future, interconnectivity
Artist Website: http://www.alycesantoro.com
COVID-19 has quickly and profoundly illustrated the extent to which environments, livelihoods, and even microbiomes are globally-entangled and mutually-dependent; the health of one hinges, directly or indirectly, on the health of all.
The microbes that dwell within us arrive from all around, gleaned from food, air, soil, and water. A bite of apple grown in New Zealand, a potato grown in Peru, a tomato grown in one’s own backyard. A breath of air that arrived on a breeze from the Sahara, captured and imparted to fellow riders in a subway car in New York, Paris, or Hong Kong. Aspects of seemingly distant people and places are constantly becoming parts of our infinitely individual, yet paradoxically multitudinous, selves. Fellow humans, other-than-humans, and even that which is not universally considered “alive” (a water molecule, for example) all become parts of what make us “us.”
COVID-19 brings the question of boundaries between beings starkly into focus: if we are all constantly exchanging biological (and other) material on a global scale, then perceived “others” are, in tangible ways, extensions of ourselves. One possible remedy, then—not only for the problem of the current pandemic but for other catastrophes-in-progress—is to care for everything and everyone as if this is the case.
Perhaps this collective realization is a conceptual anti-virus with the radically beneficial, evolutionarily advantageous effect of driving those it touches into states of deep love and respect for the world and its inhabitants. Symptoms may include increased empathy, sense of wonder, and desire to be of service to others. This contagion becomes active simply by imagining it.