Tuesday, April 7, 2020

The shutdown as an opportunity: what the cultural scene can do in a crisis – culture

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Our situation forces us to recognize that we cannot postpone and postpone our demands on ourselves and others. We cannot afford to shift what we can and could be to a future. The test is now taking place. Everything we have to do, we have to do now. (Christina Thürmer-Rohr: “Disgust at Paradise”, 1987)

The news about Covid-19 reaches us on all possible channels like permanent electric shocks. Our discussions are mostly about the virus, and even the slightest digressions end in a dead end: what will the world be like in autumn?

Our bodies pulsate in the beat of fear

In my circles, among the artists and cultural workers – in an environment that is not currently fighting for the maintenance of the health system in the clinics, is sitting at the supermarket checkout or is delivering packages – the number two topic is that you can no longer work.

Because the readings, project meetings and other opportunities to perform are eliminated, but above all because Corona occupies every fiber of the brain muscle. Our bodies pulsate in the beat of fear. Fear for one’s own health, for the health of others, for the job, the rent that has to be paid, the venues that are a safe haven, for the favorite cafes, the bookstores, for the self-managed shops.

You get nowhere, even if there was so much time now (we in quarantine, we who carry the laptop as a third arm on our body anyway). Some in shock (I, sometimes), some in anger (I, always). Stiffness, among other things, because many do not know if and when they can see loved ones again. Anger, among other things, that the current situation is tearing the ground from under their feet, who live precarious and endangered anyway.

It’s too late to prepare for an emergency when it’s there. He paralyzes and shows the already damaged areas.

The crisis works like the crisis of every relationship

And so we are in shock, but nothing surprised. The crisis that the pandemic brings about us works like the crisis of any relationship: people knew about the problems before, but could either suppress them or talk them down.

Anyone who now sits at home and enjoys the company of the person with whom they are experiencing the self-imposed or state-imposed exit restrictions knew beforehand that it would be the person with whom they wanted to grow old.

Everyone who is now dealing with the increase in domestic violence saw the problem before Corona. Those who now suspect that the state will abandon them or do not care about their downfall also suspected Corona.

All those who now feel obliged to take care of their community, to phone the needy, to bring them what they need (even if it is emotional support), did so before Corona.

And those who have always been bored, who have always believed that problems lie outside the European borders in countries with difficult-to-remember names, are preparing for permanent Netflix streaming, endless gaming and photogenic lethargy. The images of the military convoy with coffins on the way from Bergamo to Modena do nothing to change that.

If you only think of your own ass, you stock up on toilet paper

And so it is with the current and with all other political crises that we have been in for years: Those who believe that crises can be resolved with weapons are stocking themselves up with weapons and are exacerbating the climate of fear.

Those who have always thought only of their ass, stock up on toilet paper and cause bottlenecks in the supply of fellow human beings (with the half-funny side effect that Amazon has currently downgraded the book object to make room for … yes , exactly, you can imagine).

Background about the corona virus:

Those who did not care previously about the refugees on the Greek islands are finding nothing now that the aid that has already been promised to minors in Lesbos who need medical care will be suspended. They also find nothing in the fact that the state of Saxony agrees to accept Italian patients and the Saarland French patients, but no one sends a signal to the reception centers in Greece, where the needy are urgently waiting for a permit for the evacuation flights.

Sasha Marianna Salzmann lives in Berlin and is a theater author, essayist and novelist. In 2017 the debut novel “Except …Photo: Heike Steinweg

What could you do? There is the possibility of horizontal solidarity and vertical one: The horizontal one shares with people who have as much or as little, with whom you are on equal footing in the food chain of society.

The vertical spread from top to bottom, NBA players in the US are doing it by splitting parts of their six-figure fee amounts among the people who sell junk food in the basketball arenas and who will lose their wages in the coming months. Since I suspect that there are only a few million in the account of art and culture professionals in German-speaking countries, we have the option of horizontal solidarity. It also means that we look further than we are used to.

The unconditional basic income would help marginalized people

Most likely have not yet considered global primary care. Perhaps they could not afford to be interested because the money for the monthly rent had to be laboriously generated in three different jobs.

Sometimes there is simply no time to be interested in the Romanian and Polish workers who are pumping their lifeblood into German retirement homes – or who are supposed to prick our asparagus. If there were the unconditional basic income that had been discussed for a long time, marginalized people could exercise their right to have rights.

And we, the artists and cultural workers, have the time to work for it, or even more: it is our job to make connections clear and to raise questions. We could demand that in addition to unconditional basic income, global health insurance should also be a subject of political debate. We do not only need these fundamental rights for Germany.

We are intertwined like braids

It is also a consequence of European austerity policy that the broken health systems in countries such as Spain and Italy cannot cope with the challenge posed by Corona. It now strikes back towards Germany like a pendulum.

We are intertwined like braids. And if the demand for solidarity is too much eso-stuff, you may understand the argument that Germany does not support neighboring countries in this crisis out of altruism alone and supplies ventilators to Italy. No country becomes virus-free on its own, no matter how long the borders remain closed. Let us transfer this simple fact to our immediate surroundings.

As in relationships that were believed to be in shards and that are now, in times of crisis, we can begin to take care of the areas that were previously out of our sight. It can, but does not necessarily have to be the next series recommendation, it can also be a note in the hallway, on which help is offered.

We have a significant part in what the world looks like in autumn

Or you can join a network, such as LGBTQIA + & Womxn Relief for Covid-19, even if you’re not queer, but because you want to help. Just because. Even if nothing jumps out for you. This is also a contribution to culture – human care.

We could tempt the institutions we work with to do the same as the Cannes Film Festival, which, after laborious back and forth, not only canceled the festival but also made its venue available to the homeless. I call that glamor.

So maybe the cultural scene can do vertical solidarity – if Cannes can live utopia, we can too. We, not the virus, have a significant share in what the world could look like in the autumn and after – it is now decided. What can we do? Let us surprise ourselves!

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