Updated: Aug 11
And so, it's happening, a-Digital Art exhibition in the year, 2020.
So how did it all start I find myself thinking back. Here goes.
2020 rolled in with so much promise and so much hope. Celebrations with family and friends, a beautiful trip to Bagan, Myanmar, albums full of amazing shots to cherish and, the ability to use my Dad’s manual camera.
However, “it” was already a threat, looming- The Corona Virus (and at that time it had a different name starting with “W”). Soon it was not 'right' to refer to it by that name. So it came to be called Corona, Covid and so many other things other than the real curse it turned out to be world over.
Well, at the time I was working for an F&B chain as their Marketing Manager. As a self-employed artist for the last 20 years, one does adorn many a hat and marketing happens to be a key strength of mine. I am happy for the years I have spent as an independent artist and the many opportunities and collaborations it has brought along my way. So many of these have been an educational experience and taught me key life lessons and I thank each one of these people.
As it is said, your truest critics are the ones who bring you the harshest lesson, and is a person from your spirit family who is here to sharpen you and see you grow. I truly thank all these 'special' people in my life and I have had the good fortune of meeting many. This too is a perspective I have developed more recently, thanks to the current situation, that brought along so much time, for self-reflection and contemplation.
Going back to the story. February rolled in and with it much surprise. My long-time housekeeper and best friend had to leave Singapore due to the sudden death of her mother. Four days later the company announced it needed some managers to go on a no-pay leave. Yes, the F&B began felling the pinch of the virus, first. I put my hand up as I had the luxury of not being the sole bread winner, while I could not say that for the majority of the other staff. A month later when I realised the situation with the virus was going to take a longer toll, I made the move permanent into once again a self-employed, full time artist.
However, what I had not bargained for was being a full-time cook and cleaner and so many other roles all packed into one person and a major provider for all the stay home learners and of course my husband who was also in WFH (yah the first time I saw that, I did not realise this was going to be a permanent for a while in our vocab) situation pretty indefinitely.
March rolled in and India started seeing cases rising. They announced their lock-down. Even then we thought this will go away by summer. All of us were hopeful and yet at the back of our minds we feared for what was coming.
April saw Singapore with its Circuit Breaker. Mad rushes of purchase and stocking up stories were seen coming from world over. Why the toilet paper became the fascination of so many, is still a mystery. All one spoke about on the phone and in WhatsApp groups was about the darned virus or its impacts one way or another.
I started sketching regularly and taking my walks very seriously. It was my only connection with the real outside world. Really thankful to Singapore for allowing us to do that all along the CB. Apart from the translation work I was doing over the phone, for the migrants who were in the hospitals and needed the medical staff to communicate with them. My own understanding of my mother tongue improved and so did my knowledge of the disease.
My initial drawings were on the seven chakras and I started executing, a drawing a day. At the same time my Guru also announced his daily meditations and I was fortunate enough to join the afternoon sessions regularly. I felt hugely surprised that he started doing chakra meditations as well. I felt that the universe was telling me, I am on the right track. And then I saw the mail that made me think about it all. Yes, an online exhibition would be perfect. I started the prep work for it and a drawing a day slowly dwindled as now I had to think about the body of work and how it was going to evolve and what I was going to say. No I am not talking about that in this piece of writing.
Applying for the NAC grant and taking it step-by-step was the next succession. Alongside, I also worked on the conceptualization as to how I was going to
1. Execute 2. Present.
The next step was having a curator to help me with the process and guide me in so many ways. While I have been curated before and have also curated for others, this was a lovely opportunity to work with a real professional curator who comes with such a vast experience, that I started feeling more and more excited about this project. June also saw my mentor releasing his awesome body of work in a splendid exhibition called 'The Shrouded Live On'. It gave me hope that going digital with your work is “need” of the hour.
So many of us have taken our entire work-spaces and careers online. For artists, however, the challenge is very real. In an economic downturn, the first thing one tightens up is their purse. Art becomes a luxury one can do without. So how is an artist to earn given a situation like this? Especially if all the artwork is a free for all view.
Here is where patrons come in. Today's patron are these bodies who help artists like me work-from-home, create a body of work and bring it to your home totally FOC. They help the production cost of these online exhibits and make us artists feel like we are contributing by giving us an income and giving you entertainment from your home seats.
Yes, the experience is a little different. However, so is 2020. It has come with its own challenges and while each of us is trying to make best of this unknown world we inhabit now, we have all come to appreciate some core values. The values of family time and understanding how we need so little to be happy. The need to connect back to the very basics and do away with frills. 'Time' has become a lesson, a value, a commodity, a necessity. In some cases it is too much 'time' but for those fighting with their breath its too little.
While this darned year continues to teach us and we continue to learn, I must marvel at the senior population world over who are making such a remarkable move to the online world. For many, these platforms are such a new experience. It's this constant learning and fighting spirit as a species that makes us grow and evolve.
Evolution, though, is saying it's time for us to take our population and food excess needs very very seriously. Overt consumerism and insatiable hunger for ‘wants’ and ‘cravings’, both physical and mental have led us to be where we are today. No, I am not oversimplifying it. I am just saying what each of us have been thinking and saying.
I guess to summarize it all, I applaud all that we have learned and continue to learn. However, I am hoping we have less challenges ahead, for God knows 2020 has taught us one too many lessons for us to remember in this lifetime. We simply must keep these lessons in mind. Do you think we can?
Meanwhile, do turn up with your time to watch, 'The Womb of the Covid'.