Basketcase in Lockdown
During the Covid 19 pandemic Unlimited commissioned Kristina to explore Basketcase in the context of lockdown. Using notions arising from this period of isolation: a reliance on communication through technology, barriers to the outside world, and vast range of associated emotions, behaviours and experiences, Kristina has explored use of new materials like phone charging wires, electric fencing, FRAGILE tape, and materials lying around the house to create new baskets.
The gradual, methodical weaving process itself is indicative of the slower pace of this enforced confinement, yet we are also given insight into periods of unsettled intensity, reflected by the chaotic tangled effect of some of the baskets.
Kristina’s explorations have been recorded in playful interactions between artist and basket, captured on camera and in film.
Early lockdown kept the artist housebound ,and restricted her availability of materials. She used what was to hand, in this case fabrics from her previous work My Dirty Secret! She felt it fitting to be stuck in the domestic, and using material printed with images of turmeric-stained washing up froth. There was comfort in the familiarity of well-loved materials and domesticity, but Kristina also wanted to convey the strong barricades that encircled and protected her home and family. As metaphors for masks, handwashing and the four walls of her house, she used black cable-ties to erect a spiky defence around the soft curves of the basket.
We are weaving new ways to stay connected, but it’s messy. There are gaps, so many gaps. Gaps in understanding, gaps in experiences, gaps in routines, gaps in communication. So many people falling through gaps: people in care homes dying in their thousands, slipping through the gaps of government protection; disabled people disproportionately affected, yet again; frontline workers unprotected because of big gaps in PPE provision, And here we are, all of us trying to navigate our way through it all.
There was an initial overwhelming buzz of activity online: zoom calls, online meetings, social media posts, alternative ways of working, family quizzes, online shopping, forums to share info, accessible, creative, colourful ways to connect.
All these wires enabling us reach out and touch, to be touched, but in the virtual world something is missing. It changes the way we communicate and converse, it’s clunky and impersonal. Physical presence, a person’s energy, can’t be felt through a screen. Was anyone really listening to each other? Was there any real connection?
Electric fence wire and Shou sugi ban
Exploring the new barriers we erect as a result of lockdown: self protection, hunkering down, staying safe, fences we create to keep danger out. And reflecting on the barriers already erected in society: externally imposed barriers, exclusion, discrimination, inevitable isolation. For many people, lockdown is an eye-opener into the difficulties of living with barriers, for others it is their daily lived experience.
Who erects the fences around us? Whose interests are being protected? Will this new insight and shared experience bring changes post-lockdown?
“Basketcase is a pejorative term for people with mental health issues. In exploring basket weaving materials as a metaphor for barriers, it is interesting that I’ve unintentionally wound my way towards using a wire that involves giving electric shocks; an intervention historically used on mental health patients.”
“We are not vulnerable people. We are strong people put at risk by poor policies”
The existing inequalities in society have been amplified by the pandemic. The gaps are widening and yet as we remain locked down and hidden behind closed doors, so too does the fallout. So many more barriers to weave through…60% of people dying from covid are disabled. Those in lower socio economic groups are facing increased financial hardship and reduced support. Black, and Asian people, and those from minority ethnicities are inadvertently hit by covid. There is no surprise. Inequality and discrimination have very real consequences and even more so in covid times. There is weakness and fragility in the system.Artist Kristina Veasey