letters from the pandemic #5 Oct 16 2020


The Summer of our Discontent

I borrowed that line, of course from John Steinbeck’s last novel “The Winter of our Discontent” and like in Steinbeck’s novel our current reality has to do with corruption and corruptibility.

I have never been a political artist, nor do I believe in activist or political art, but I am an observer of reality, and I try to transcend what I am observing, crystallizing it into form.

Reality is always a challenge for an artist, the process of observing a flower and transcending the very core of its being in a painting, is ultimately the same as observing complex societal currents, crystallizing them into forming an image.

This particular image formed during the past 3 1/2 years but especially over the spring days of our self quarantine, and I started working on the painting as soon as I was able to return to the studio in the early summer.

Born in Germany, I have often asked myself how it was possible that an entire country and the vast majority of its citizens fell to the demagoguery of a small band of criminals and subsequently commit unspeakable crimes themselves. How was it possible for them not to see the deportations, the beatings on the street, the demonization of one group of their countrymen. Looking at my country today, without wanting to draw parallels, I can see the mechanisms working.

I developed a morbid fascination for the sort of societal blindness of reality, I am observing in our nation, but also in acquaintances and even friends, who experience reality only through their ideology.

All of this plays out on the background of a raging pandemic in which our government failed to lead and protect the most vulnerable.

By now we are counting about 200+ days, or more than half a year into the pandemic crisis, and although NYState and NYC had horrendous losses in lives and is still suffering greatly from the economic fallout, we brought the numbers of infections down to a manageable level and are now anxiously starring at the rest of the nation, where the numbers are still raging and a second wave is almost certain to arrive here in NY too. Almost 8 million reported cases and 217 000 deaths. Not to speak about those, who ‘recovered’ and are dealing with serious health issues following their bout with Covid-19.

Our Democracy has been under attack from day one of this administration. Unthinkable as little as 3 1/2 years ago that this would once become an issue in the oldest, modern day democracy in the world - but here we are, seriously mulling over the due process choices the legitimately elected future president would have to remove his predecessor from office. This country has held elections and peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next during the civil war, 2 world wars, the turmoil of the civil rights era, the murder and assassination of presidents and administration members and civil rights leaders, but now the failed businessman and sociopathic narcissist can declare “we will see” whether he is accepting the outcome of the election.

One has to appreciate the magnitude of the statement and the little public outrage it provokes. True, there are articles been written and the opposing party including the former president are issuing dire warnings, but where are we? Why don’t we defend our democracy and institutions in a significant way? The response to the outrageous sabotage of the country, the greedy kleptocratic actions of the cabinet, the nepotism of the president and his family, is rather fractious and helpless. Let’s hope for an awakening and lasting change. The least we can do is going to the polls and vote. Thx to Angelica Semmelbauer of Ellipsis Art, all new works can be viewed in the virtual show 'Line, Form, Passage' on Kunstmatrix Line, Form, Passage on artsy by Ellipsis and a review by Jonathan Goodman in White Hot Magazine, NY




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