At the beginning of the year, who could have predicted how much we would come to re-evaluate and reflect on the meaning of community come summer? The past few months have seen bodies distanced and invisible borders erected between individuals, communities, cities and countries. People have also come together in mass moments of unity, with powerful effect.
“The past few months have seen bodies distanced and invisible borders erected between individuals, communities, cities and countries”
In this issue we meet five artists who visualize the way in which we interact with our fellow humans, and the chasms that exist between us. Kambui Olujimi addresses the intentional muting of Black joy, creating moments of weightless, boundless possibility in his potent works. Todd Hido captures the cold division of suburban neighbours who live behind picket fences, experiments in the American Dream that often fail to truly connect their inhabitants. Conversely, Sarah Slappey paints wild conglomerations of human bodies, which tumble into one energetic, tactile whole. GaHee Park explores the strange pleasures of close domestic proximity, and Rafal Milach questions how people keep on functioning under oppressive regimes, placing himself directly within moments of protest and surreal, state-sanctioned activity.
In our Encounters interviews, Tschabalala Self talks about the importance of representation in visual art and discusses painting through her own lived experience. Bosco Sodi tells us about the impact that Abstract Expressionism has made on his deep, earthy works, and his lifelong connection with nature. We also hear from Joana Vasconcelos about nationalism, and the unexpected connections that bind countries and individuals together, as well as what sets them apart. Lindsay Seers speaks about breaking down the binary understanding of fact and fiction, and John Kørner ponders authenticity and the connecting energy of public sport.
We explore lockdown creativity in our Paper Galleries, sharing the photographic project of New York couple David Brandon Geeting and Lina Sun Park, created entirely within the four walls of their apartment. And we feature the dynamic works of Shara Hughes, which draw their viewer into fantastical landscape scenes which seem to pulse with colour.
We also learn about the creative history of London squats, from the people who knew them best. The likes of Jimmy Cauty and David Shillinglaw discuss how these spaces were once fertile ground for art, music, activism and community, and consider the uncertain future that lies ahead.
Visible changes to society are rarely swift. It might take years to fully understand the impact of the unprecedented upheaval that took hold this year. But having seen how quickly things can adapt when need demands it, now is a better time than ever to both rethink and reconnect with the seemingly immovable social structures that many people have taken for granted. It is an opportunity to ask: how would we want our communities to look, if we could design them from scratch?
Elephant Issue 43
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