The politest thing I could say about this year is that it has given me the sense of living through something historic. Frankly, I think I’d rather not live through interesting times, it’s been unpleasant to say the least.
The climate is volatile and full of unknowns. Next year brings the predictable shambles that is Brexit. A silver lining is that there is a vaccine and it is starting to be given out, which promises a return to ‘normal’ . . . but I’m not sure I want things to go back to exactly the same. This year has highlighted broken system, right down to the way PPE is audited (who counts a pair of gloves in ones?!).
But people have been creating. Proof (as if it was needed) that art IS important, history IS important and engaging with other humans is DEFINITLY IMPORTANT. Empathy is key.
From Where I’m Standing, presented by the Empathy Museum, brings together audio stories and portraits from 2020. It’s story telling from 34 incredible people sharing their experiences of the pandemic, ranging from an undertaker to a supermarket worker and a doctor. There is currently a physical outdoor gallery in a street in Brixton with ‘for sale’ like signs with images and codes to hear the stories. For those that cannot make it in person, the online web gallery makes the stories and images accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
The stories include heartbreak and hope, fears for the future and acts of kindness. They are just so god damn human and special and you really should just take some time to have a listen. I truly feel that they make you think and allow you a bit of time to heal because this year has just been damaging physically and mentally.
I managed to get the chance to go to see the outdoor Tate Britain Winter commission. ‘Remembering a Brave New World’ by Chila Kumari Singh Burman is a joyously colourful display of light on the front of Tate Britain. It incorporates Burman’s family stories, Bollywood imagery and colonial history. It’s a cross cultural celebration, inspired by Blackpool illuminations and Hindu mythology, mashing up stereotypes to create new identities. It is beautiful and hopefully the start of a brighter future.
‘From Where I’m Standing’ will be physically on display in Brixton, but touring other streets in 2021. It can also be accessed online here. ‘Remembering a Brave New World’ will be on display on the outside of Tate Britain until the 31 January 2021.