• Alan Smith ACA

Does a virus have purpose?

Over the last 3 months a lot has changed for me that I have so far not been able to identify as a recognisable form. I have not yet found a shape, sound or smell to this coronavirus thing.

COVID-19 has provided an interesting situation; it’s implemented a watching condition and exaggerated my usual manner of engagement - that of observing beyond reach and from my remote and isolated bubble to consider meaning and weight of significance from a considerable and mostly comfortable distance.

From the start of Call Centre I thought our focus would be COVID-19, as if it existed in isolation. Imagine it as distinctly solid, complete and separate from any other business. I still fantasise about a COVID shape and continue to struggle to make sense of whatever it is that I have apparently experienced and will continue to experience until someone tells me that I don’t need to experience it anymore.

From my front garden lookout, COVED-19 has given me the impression that it is endowed with an ability to act as a catalyst for looking, seeing and thinking. It’s a pot stirring virus that makes me behave differently, respond more dramatically, emotionally and purposefully from this imposed and comparatively motionless state, perfectly set up for surveillance of neighbours and watching the world go by via instantly fed global screen happenings from the comfort of a sofa.

Here are some of the things that I have watched happen during this time of coronavirus (in no particular order).

Australian bushfires. Climate protests. Iranian General Qasem Soleimani killed in US drone strike. Pubs shut. The World Health Organization is notified of coronavirus in China. The United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union. Harvey Weinstein is found guilty of third-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act. Ukrainian airliner crashed in Iran. Italy becomes the first country to implement a nationwide lockdown. Dow plunges 2,997 points in the worst drop since 1987 amid coronavirus fears. Devastating floods in Indonesia. President Donald Trump acquitted. Dads 90th birthday. Devastating floods in the UK. Death of Kobe Bryant in helicopter crash. Earthquakes in Turkey and the Caribbean Locus swarm in East Africa. Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein. Murder of George Floyd. Edward Colston statue thrown into river. Rayshard Brooks shot in the back. Stabbings in Reading. Football starts again… and so much more, I wonder what I will be given to watch next.

The 4th of July or sometime in August will take me off shielding… what difference will that make and why? My guess is that I will still struggle to make sense of what’s happening.

Boris Johnson just said, ‘the virus has no interest in these debates’. Then surely it is interested in other debates. It lives.

© 2018 Allenheads Contemporary Arts, Allenheads, Hexham, Northumberland NE47 9HR

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