One year of The Crown Letter – a strange anniversary
June 2 to June 9
On May 25, George Floyd, an African American man, was killed by a Minneapolis policeman for having a counterfeit $20 bill. Police brutality is imbedded in the history of the United States, and in recent years has seen the death of many black and brown young men and women. These injustices have given rise to the Black Lives Matter movement flamed by income inequality and foreseeable unemployment. George Floyd’s death has incited demonstrations throughout the US with thousands of citizens protesting racial injustice, gathering in close proximity to each other. Statistics show that Covid-19 has infected a proportional majority in the black and brown communities.
Last night, throughout New York City there was violence by the police, some rioters and fringe groups brought in to incite disruption. In the neighborhood where I live many of the stores were looted, and, as of now, buildings are boarded up in anticipation of what is to come.
On May 12, I ended my Corona Diary after 2 solid months of entries, why did I stop?
For an artist, how an idea starts and when you have finished is the age-old question of how do you know when you are done. More honestly, when are you bored with the thought of continuing, and when does it become not fun, but a chore. The Diary began as a way to entertain myself and feel centered at a moment when time became an abstraction and days seemed endless. It added an activity and gave a momentary focal point, even for a few minutes.
For me making art (generally) is a way to investigate a specific circumstance. I approach it with the aesthetic “tools” I come with, coupled with my interest in having it be a trigger for a more complex analysis having to do with “us” in relation to our being part of a larger social system. It is a game of manipulation, where I manipulate an image, a hunch, a thought into becoming something “real”. Not surprisingly, it is both as difficult as it is engaging, and is an endless fight against self-indulgence, aesthetic impulse, and sense of lack.
All this is to explain my reason for stopping. I stopped wanting to think about where we were, and wanted to start thinking about a future since the present is too unreal for me to understand. As of May 23rd, 5.5 million people have been infected worldwide, and 340,000 people have died.
May 19 to May 26
May 12 to May 19
May 5 to May 12
April 28 to May 5
April 21 to April 28
The first image is of Broome St looking East at midday taken on March 12. Normally the street is unbearable with traffic and tourists…on that day, NY became a ghost town. Almost immediately I realized that to keep sane I needed to have a daily activity that would use very little brain power and a minimal amount of aesthetic decision making.
I have a laptop, 2 computers and a phone. I use 1 for zoom, 1 to take pictures, 1 to format files and the other to combine PDFs. I have 2 levels in my loft and climb up and down the stairs constantly never knowing which computer has what. At times like these I realize that my organizational skills could be improved.
The Corona Diary really began on March 19. Sitting in my home, looking out at a brick wall, I clicked my phone. Most every day since I take a photo and often more than one. Some days I include a snap shot someone sent me, pictures of living creatures from online videos, a zoom meeting with students or a record of my daily walk. On occasion, I buy myself flowers or mark a special event. During this time period, 2 friends have died from the virus, a 3rd from a long illness. I have included the announcements of their death in this diary.
I read the news constantly from various news sources. I rant and rave get angry and depressed. I do school work, I exercise, I might take a walk or go shopping for food. I throw out unnecessary books, organize my hard drive, and get rid of unworn clothing. I do laundry and clean. When I leave the house, I wear a mask and rubber gloves. I barely read, and hardly cook and recently have been smoking a lot of pot. I drink less and worry more. I have anxiety for not using my time creatively. I have no ideas.
In “real life” my days are not too dis-similar from the Corona days. I work at home, I teach Mondays, and occasionally have meetings for school on Wednesdays. I go to the gym 2x a week, go shopping and run errands. 4-5 nights a week I meet friends, have dinner or a drink, go to an opening, a film or some kind of performance. The other nights I make dinner and watch TV. Since the lockdown, I don’t know what I do all day- the next thing I know it is 4pm.
Andrea Blum is a New York based artist whose work falls somewhere between sculpture, architecture and design. With humor and cynicism, she considers the relationship of the social/political world to the private/ psychological one.