TTL: Covid-19 Juxtapositions

Act up. Fight Back. Hand portrait in black and white by Alina Oswald.

A look at life (so far) during Covid-19 and related creative work

It’s the day after Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S., which usually means that summer is “unofficially” here. Yet, this year there’s nothing “usual” about anything, it seems. Also, there’s nothing resembling summer (summertime, summer lazy afternoons, etc.) either, not this past weekend, not today, and not here, in the NYC area. The weather has been terrible. Coronavirus is still with us, stubbornly refusing to leave or at least go dormant for a few months.

Truth is that Coronavirus has (forever?) changed the way many of us look at life in terms of what’s important and what’s not, what matters and what does not, and so on. Covid-19 has changed the way we do many things–wash our hands or use our hands to communicate and interact with others, to express ourselves, or express gratitude (think about the clapping and cheering for first responders at 7pm every evening). This pandemic has changed the way we dress, clean, cook, do business, or stay in touch with family and friends. I believe that Covid-19 has also helped us take another look at the world around us, as well as inside our own selves.

Lately, I’ve noticed that the overall mood surrounding the virus has begun to change, just slightly and somewhat for the better. In this post, I’d also like to pair some of the emotions many have experienced while trying to survive this pandemic with hand portraits attempting to express similar feelings–emotions expressed through touch, rage, anger, hope (or lack thereof), and so on. Again, it’s a work in progress, but this series of black-and-white hand portraits and hand portraits has been inspired, at least in part, by the Coronavirus pandemic. And so, I thought to share at least a few shots.

Plead. Hand self-portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.
Pleading. Hand self-portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

January 2020 began on a pretty hopeful note, and, personally, I needed that. I started the new year hoping for a better year and did a pretty good job keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions, at least some of them. Then we heard rumors about a new virus surfacing oceans and continents away. Soon, it turned out that those rumors were true.

On February 28 and 29, I had to go into the city, to run a few errands, and also for work. The calm before the incoming storm was already in the air, palpable. What we didn’t quite realize at the time was that the Covid-19 storm was already here, about to take over our lives.

Power. Hand portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.
Power. Hand portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

By mid-March, things started to get serious. Seemingly overnight, the number of Covid-19 infections skyrocketed. The daily number of Covid-19-related deaths almost reached a thousand. Hospitals were running out of beds, ICU beds, and ventilators. There was not enough testing being done, for lack of tests and mostly devices necessary to do the testing….

Rage. Hand portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.
Rage. Hand portraits in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

Then everything shut down. Life in quarantine began. So did wearing facial masks and social distancing. (I still wear a mask and social distance when outside; I still think they should have called it “physical” distancing, but that’s just me).

Fight. Hand portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.
Fight. Hand portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

Schools turned to virtual classes. So did everybody else, if or whenever possible. Life…living was still happening, mostly online.

Holding on to Hope. ©Alina Oswald.
Hold on (to Hope). or Despair, depending on how you look at it. Hand self-portrait in black and white. ©Alina Oswald.

Daily tasks started to change, and their priorities shifted. Everyday, mundane, activities started to take up more of our time.

Along the way, I’ve learned new things and tried my hand at a few more. With several of my pre-Covid-19 projects and gigs hitting the dust, I allowed myself more time to think and work on personal projects. Good or bad or works in progress, they’ve kept me alive so far, mentally and creatively.

As life during Coronavirus continues to unfold, there will be more stories to tell, more art to create. The journey through this new life might continue to be a bumpy ride, at least in part. Will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, I hope you stay safe and are well, and, as always, thank you for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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