May 9, 2020
Culture & Music
During this period of self-isolation, artist Bex Day had created an ongoing photo series of self-portraits titled Seesaw showing an abstraction of the daily lives of those practising social distancing, doing what they can to fight against the spread of COVID-19.
I’ve found it very difficult to vocalise the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has created for me, as someone with OCD, specifically Pure O, which is a type of OCD that is made up of repetitive, intrusive, and uncontrollable thoughts (or obsessions) that are usually not accompanied by outward behavioral compulsions, but it varies from case to case. “Gauze” is a very personal image for me for this reason. The virus has stimulated some ritualistic behaviours in me, including constant hand-washing, but mainly ruminations about infecting my mother, whom I fear wouldn’t survive the virus. The gauze itself represents this lack of information for those with Pure O accessible in the mainstream media.
“Hazmat” is my reinterpretation of a hazmat suit; a colourful celebration for those who are working long, difficult hours for our NHS and health services all over the world, fighting to save the lives of the victims of this pandemic.
The idea for “Umbilical Cord” came out of concern for my mother becoming infected with COVID-19. Having lost my father in February this year to Leukaemia, I had be- come aware that my OCD was intensified throughout my grieving period. Whilst the fear of my mother losing her life to this virus is a thought I obsess over, the way we have become closer since living together again during the lockdown has been very significant to me, making me feel more connected to her, like when I was a child.
Individuals who have had less interest in the great outdoors have shared their desires to go on long walks, since being confined to their homes during the lockdown. It’s a breath of fresh air; people have been so dependent on screens in recent memory, but now that they are trapped in with their iPhones and computers, all they want to do is rebel and experience our environment. “Spring” represents this revived thirst we have to return to nature, but also nature’s rejuvenation in our absence.
The same way a brown paper bag is a symbol for hyperventilation, “Paper Bag” resembles the vulnerability and delicacy myself and others have encountered thus far; it’s a coping mechanism to deal with the discomfort that the pandemic brings in terms of the feelings of uncertainty from enforced isolation – a situation many have felt suffocat- ed by.
“Garden” is my way of expressing the simulation of our normal lives that we are having to create in our homes. I have found solace in my creative endeavours; my mother and I painted the backdrop together to pass the time. To stay productive and active, we have all had to compress the space in which we enact the regularities of our life- styles. Whether that is working from home, getting exercise or entertaining our families; we are bound by the restrictions staying at home has on our lives.
When in isolation, it is essential to find pleasure in entertaining oneself. The taboo of masturbation seems to be a comically underrated topic of conversation regarding the pandemic. I wanted to capture this in an equally humorous way, by paying tribute to Guy Bourdin, an inspiration of mine.
“Zilch” is intended as a playful depiction of the issue of stockpiling during the pandemic. On my first shopping trip after the initial announcements about the virus spread- ing to the UK, I remember turning into the aisle with toilet paper in it and seeing nothing but empty shelves, people having ravished whatever they could get their hands on. Staring down the tube of a used toilet roll felt like the best visual representation of what I saw that day.
COVID-19 has created an uneven path for many people, particularly in terms of work, relationships and mental health; many people are stuck at home alone without any company or help. “Off Balance” juxtaposes the extremities of the virus; the hardships faced by many, but also the sense of freedom injected into our society. In these times of loss, there is a sense of growth – of slowing down and spending time with yourself and, although sometimes virtually, friends and family too.