The Quarantine Correspondence
Over the past few months many countries have been under quarantine with the Covid-19 pandemic effecting many and globally. This is something that historically has happened every few hundred years a major health event that has changed the way we live. During the time of The Great Plague of London (1665-1666) pandemic, people thought evil spirits may be to blame for the disease, we only know this information today by being able to see archived information in letter form from this time. During the time of the 1600s more people were able to read and write this literacy boom through to the 1800s, gives us the correspondence between reverends, scholars and people of state. By writing to others in a time of uncertainty was the only way to stay informed with loved ones and a way to receive needed information, on food, children and health updates.
The influenza pandemic hit 1918 a huge part of the information we have is via archives, written letter and telegrams. Not only was the flu happening but the first world war (WW1) Letters I have read include letters, speaking of food rations, childcare, how the virus has effected families. All of which is very present today and could be seen with out media hype of panic buying toilet rolls. It is funny to see how history really does repeat itself in some ways, people have written of "embroidering face masks, face masks of all kinds big and small". (Indianapolis schoolteacher named Hildreth Heiney 1918) We have seen communities come together, and the rise in mail art, a way of corresponding in a time of the digital age. Today (2020) we have the ease of connecting with others at our fingertips, with the rise of the internet, emails, instant messaging we have more ways to communicate than ever before in history. However people have turned back to a way of writing that has been lost, letters and mail art. Mail art movement was at its peak in the 1950s with artists such as Ray Johnson, Anna Banana but this died out but the late 1990s with the rise of the internet.
There seems to have been a comeback of people taking the time to write to one another, bringing a human connection to lives in a rather contact-less moment. Writing to one another it has brought some excitement to waiting on the postal system to our lives in quarantine. There has been a boom in mail art open calls as well as poems, letters, postcards, it has been beautiful to see people coming together in a time of isolation. This has influenced by take on what I call The Quarantine Correspondence, each piece is letter stamped by hand onto toilet tissue paper, taking a nod to the panic buying we had at the beginning of the pandemic. I have tried to bring some light humor to what can be a deeply unsettling time, something I try and keep in most of my works. This is an on going project and something I am doing more research into the history of pandemics and letter writing, This is my starting point and I am enjoying exploring our history.
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