Ecography Exhibition Captures a New Awareness of Home
| Farhat Afzal |
The ongoing global pandemic caused by the spread of the novel coronavirus has forced us to pause and reassess how we live our lives. Nationwide lockdowns were imposed by governments all over the world to ensure social distancing in order to limit the spread of the virus. Schools and universities have adapted to conducting lessons online, while several organisations have made it possible for employees to stay home and work remotely. This has resulted in many of us staying home for a longer stretch of time than what we are normally used to. The present situation thus raises the question of how we perceive the notion of home and how that notion has changed over the course of 2020.
To look closely at this unique situation surrounding domestic spaces, Bengal Institute for Architecture, Landscapes and Settlements invited submissions that expressed how each individual experiences home in the unprecedented circumstances brought upon us by Covid-19. Participants had the option to submit writings, drawings, illustrations or videos that captured their newfound realisations about home. The event was announced on the 1st of September, and submissions were accepted until 20th of September, 2020.
An overwhelming number of responses were received from various cities across the globe. Over 130 entries were submitted in the form of poems, short essays, photo series, gifs and videos, from locations as diverse as Buenos Aires, Lucerne and Houston to Melbourne, Ankara and Cluj-Napoca. All of them were displayed in an online exhibition on Bengal Institute’s website.
Among the submissions, we got a glimpse of how a little girl spends her days at home surrounded by her loved ones in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. We received an entry of what a futuristic Dhaka would look like a century later. We saw a drawing of how two students quarantined themselves in a small room in Brussels. We witnessed the charms of a balcony in a small town in Haryana, how an artist picked up the paintbrush and filled up several canvases with works of art, and in general how private and public life blurred into one cohesive whole.
By witnessing all of these experiences, it became evident citizens of all nations affected by the coronavirus collectively faced this unexpected crisis in more or less similar manners. Those of us who were fortunate to survive this pandemic have also had the chance to document and record our experiences of how we did it. This is perhaps one of the advantages of facing a crisis in the 21st century, and hopefully, future generations will learn from the mistakes made during this pandemic and prevent something like this from happening again.
All entries of the online exhibition can be viewed at https://bengal.institute/ecography/
CONTEXT Contributor: Farhat Afzal is an Academic Associate in Bengal Institute of Architecture, Landscape and Settlement, Dhaka, Bangladesh.
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