If there’s any one term that’s become more and more popular (and essential) among all of us in the media, recently, it’s this one: “the crisis”. It’s the uncontested leader in the buzzword charts, a constant guest on title pages, and a topic that’s omnipresent among new non-fiction releases. For it does, after all, provide a convenient way of explaining, labelling, and categorising any complex occurrence.
The financial crisis, the real estate crisis, the climate crisis, and—as the latest, just one-and-a-half-year-old newcomer to our public cabinet of horrors: the COVID crisis.
As soon as the conversation turns to crises, people also drag out all of those stock phrases that everybody’s got stowed away in their rhetorical pantry.
Emerging stronger from the crisis. Crisis as an opportunity. Overcoming the crisis with courage. It is as if a crisis-like event—not infrequently fit to threaten one’s own existence, as so many of us freelance artists were forced to experience during the pandemic—were a sporting discipline, subject to certain laws like any other: if you just train sufficiently and exhibit superlative performance, you can make it. And the inversion of this logic: those who don’t make it just didn’t try hard enough.
Precisely the coronavirus pandemic, however, showed how fundamentally wrong—and above all outdated—such tenets are. Many artists reacted to this new situation in widely divergent ways. Some initially withdrew and forged new plans, others improvised and sought out new, temporary fields of work, and many discovered for themselves ways in which to perform online—thereby managing to maintain at least some contact with their audiences. What everyone reports, however, is how very much it helped them last year to not be left alone with their fears. And just how much good it did to engage in exchange with other artists, exchange that was often interdisciplinary and extended beyond their own areas of work.
The crisis is not an individual problem to be solved on one’s own. And the greatest force with which to counter it is developed together, not alone.