Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (7)

Por: José Antonio Michelena

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when and how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have spent it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present, and what they expect from the future, how they imagine it.


Habaneros a la vanguardia técnica mixta sobre fotografía 50 x 70 cm (3)
Habaneros a la vanguardia técnica mixta sobre fotografía 50 x 70 cm (3)

Sandra Ceballos

Sandra, how have you lived these months of lockdown? Did you make the most of it?

“In these days of gathering at home, caused by the terrible SARS-Cov2 pandemic that has already caused more than 380,000 human deaths, I have organized morning marathons of jogging races through the different home spaces. Then, in respect of my body’s demand for exhaustion, the exercise leaves and to recover the energies, rest on my bed while I enjoy films, series and my cartoon collection.

“It is an action — if not therapeutically effective in the face of the phenomenon we are suffering from – resistance to death in an urgent outbreak of conservation instinct.

“I perform these marathons and rests with a camera in my hand for the purpose of documenting the environment of my confinement while running or resting. My project is titled “Marathon Aminoplease” and consists of more than 60 photographs/color. A burst roll orients my career from the rooms to the kitchen, turn and return. On the contrary during rest, the environment is perceived very static through my feet and with the precarious light of a common room, the images of the TV appear.

“These photos form a sequence that chronicles my despair at repairing my body and preparing it for the battle against passivity and uncertainty. I’m not interested in looking into the psychological state that this retreat might cause in me, because in reality the set-off has always nurtured my personality, that is, I’m not afraid to spend many hours, weeks and months with Sandra, a few years ago I made peace with me and learned to like myself.”

Are there any conclusions you’ve made, in existential terms, that you want to share?

“I have reflected on how stormy i find a responsible part of the information about my species and its (constructive/destructive) work on earth—that diabolical antinomy with few virtues and exacerbated virulent acritud—that is revealed by incursion into cyber-news. However, I would not have liked to be an animal exposed to the genocide of my fellowmen either.

“You don’t have to prove to anyone if we’re talented or powerful, maybe it’s easier—though not simple—to understand what an arm is, and not a simple arm, but YOUR arm, YOUR back, YOUR viscera, YOUR heart, YOUR head. We know nothing about ourselves and all we do is criticize and criticize ourselves, disfigure or mistreat our body, mind and environment.

“If we do not confine ourselves and live in for a while inside, learning to eliminate that pathological anxiety of interacting and competing with society, we will always be in the same place: filling ourselves with people who finally intoxicate us, who suck our energy and in the end throw us aside to look for new horizons, but in turn we will do this ourselves with other people forming part of that pathetic chain of victim-victims and vice versa; so we have to be alone on the edge of the precipice to learn, because they never taught us (neither did our ancestors) that we really existed and that we had the possibility to know, forgive and love each other.

“Now the way is to seek a Self and respect it with due distance, not to establish psycho-dependencies and polluting customs, rather to assume the practice of detachment. When we learn this, the excessive needs of socializing, showing off our plumage and waiting to be accepted or not will be over; the terrible obsession with fighting for being superior to the Other will be over.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, this time cloistered?

“There is one thing I have confirmed in recent times: it is true that a multitude can generate a force capable of modifying and revolutionizing, but eye, objectives, pretensions and directions are fundamental and salvation can only be achieved from a repaired, renewed and inclined I towards respecting and rebuilding our habitat and all its components. If each of us individually kidnap our Tanatos, we can move forward in community. If each of us helps a helpless being, a wounded or helpless animal, if we organize our own cleansing of the nearest environment, if we do not allow ourselves to be manipulated by greed, excessive ambitions, envy, complexes, possessive spirit, lalala… each restored piece could compose an advanced totemic society, generating (from millions of cured IDs) a saving, renewing, strong and effective crowd capable of defeating viruses (if any) of all kinds and capable of avoiding natural disasters caused by irresponsible and immature social growth.”

How do you live up the post-pandemic future?

“Difficult times are coming, even more so. Our species has proceeded brutally and genocidally throughout history. All that happens is nothing more than the consequence of our clumsiness and I glimpse in the future a greater increase in misery, viruses, mental and somatic diseases, abuse, cruelty, crime, wars, natural disasters until the sea irretrievably covers our entire existence.

“The virus will go just as it appeared and we may get one last chance. Then we would have to start the changes from now on.”

Sandra Ceballos Obaya

Visual artist, curator, art critic, cultural promoter. Graduated from the San Alejandro National School of Fine Arts. In Havana, he has been holding the Aglutinador visual arts space since 1994.

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