Stories of Social Distancing 8: Abdul Sharif Baruwa

During this temporary postponement of FIA residencies and programs, we have invited former artists-in-residence to submit texts, images, stories and thoughts exploring how they are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; how their daily life or community has been disrupted; how they are dealing with isolation and the concept of social distancing; as well as how they are looking ahead to healthier and undoubtably transformed times. Thanks to all who have contributed to this ongoing series and stay safe.

Abdul Sharif Baruwa
FIA artist-in-residence, 2019

Chronology of an Apocalypse
April 2020

An apocalypse is a crisis brought to the collective from outside, regardless of social status, religion or ideology.

How do we define consciousness? Who is aware? Eventually, a tree is as much a part of a state of mind called consciousness as we are a planet or a star.

Why should self-consciousness be a human privilege rather than a universal state of mind accessible to all?

The unpleasant undertone of colonial hegemony has crushed any hope for change. Hundreds of refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. The Austrian government is more concerned about its citizens not being able to visit their grandparents during Easter because of COVID-19.

Believe in civilization. Keep your head up. Believe. Forgiveness seems to become more and more important. A heart has got to be pure in order to believe. It’s hard to leave hate and greed behind; perhaps I can, step by step.

A disconcerting state of collective Blindness caused by the omnipresence of COVID-19.

Emmanuel Macron’s war against an invisible enemy. I’m sorry.

I run into a friend at the grocery store. First time with a mask.

Same kind of exposure I felt the day when the outdoor pool (in German, Freibad) in our village opened; the villagers shared the water and saw each other in swimwear for the first time.

Paradoxically, it is now the covering up, due to a situation we are collectively and involuntary delivered to, which utterly exposes us.

Met a neighbour on the stairs. Overwhelmed by the sudden change, like a bomb
being thrown at the social body, our collective body smashed into pieces. A common trauma.

We are exposed, we are vulnerable, afraid and disabled, deprived by the right to move freely, the possibility to physically gather, to show presence and to stand for our rights.

Sitting in my flat, feeling my body. I’m taking a deep breath. It’s a social body; it belongs to the collective. Every breath is an act of participation, responsibility, awareness, and eventually love; love is power.

Photo by Abdul Sharif Baruwa, taken during his 2019 FIA residency.