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This video still is composed of multiple layers including hands, curtains, street traffic and pink mask signage. The hands convey elements of intimacy and loneliness as they travel across the screen. The pink signage creates an additional dimension of complexity as it highlights the signifigance of wearing a mask. The distance between the street traffic and the camera itself creates a sense of isolation or seperation from the people outside, reflecting further on the themes of anxiety and loss.

COVID-19 anxiety in the age of the anthropocene

March 1, 2021 — 

“COVID-19 anxiety” is an intensively collaborative creation-research project that I began working on over three stages extending from summer 2020 to summer 2021.

In response to the challenges brought about by the pandemic, I plan to create a video artwork exploring the Anthropocene, regarding the human impact on the Earth from an educational perspective. My video artwork will capture this unprecedented moment in time by focusing on how traditional learning environments, such as schools and classrooms have become impacted by the pandemic. The transition towards online learning environments, or digital ecosystems, has inspired me to portray these educational landscapes throughout my video artwork.

“My video artwork will capture this unprecedented moment in time by focusing on how traditional learning environments, such as schools and classrooms have become impacted by the pandemic.”

During Stage 1, Drs. Black, Patterson, and artist Daniel Payne, worked at the Ontario College of Art and Design University (OCADU) with support from the OCAD university research seed grant pro­gram in order to produce artwork on the topic of “COVID-19: Land, Refuge and Loss.”

In fall 2020, Stage 2 work segwayed, supported by a Canada Council Grant, to further expand upon the ideas surrounding the political, personal and societal situations located with our personal and collective responses to COVID-19.

The focus has been on the “anxiety of dissolution” as creativity is explored within indecisive agitation during the pandemic. I worked primarily on video editing during Stage 2.

Graduate student Sarah Paradis

Graduate student Sarah Paradis

As I write this, we are heading into Stage 3 during the winter/spring of 2021, supported by a UM creative works grant, wherein we are further building upon our body of creative art with the aim to exhibit in two galleries located in Toronto during the spring/summer 2021.

Through a series of public talks, responses to contemporary literature, and gallery exhibitions at 113Research, OCADU and Gallery 1313 (Toronto), we will be able to share our experiences about making visual artwork in response to the pandemic from an Anthropocentric perspective. The collaborative and individual artworks convey anxiety, tension, and uncertainty while examining modes of cognizant reflections, personal/cooperative embodied awareness of feeling, conceptions and reflections about our current COVID-19 lived experiences.

Participating artists on this project include: Drs. Joanna Black (UM) and Pam Patterson (OCADU; musi­cian Daniel Payne (OCADU), Dorothy H. Hoover (OCADU) and graduate students Angie Ma (OCA­DU) and Sarah Paradis (UM).

COVID-19 Anxiety in the Age of the Anthropocene and other feature stories can be read in the Winter 2021 issue of ResearchLIFE magazine.


Research at the University of Manitoba is partially supported by funding from the Government of Canada Research Support Fund.

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