Balsa wood, iridescent film, 2020.
This is the first piece of art that I have ever produced in which the meaning of the work shifted as quickly as I could produce it.
It started at the height of COVID-19 lockdown. Blue skies. I gazed at them, daily, during the first few months of stay-at-home orders, observing the overwhelming silence in the skies when all flights were grounded. A once-in-several-generations opportunity to observe what the skies were like in the time before human flight. Unprecedented times.
My thoughts were consumed with our environment, and the effect that this pause would have on climate change. I pondered the possibilities of how reopening the post-covid world could look. Would our global reboot be more green? Would island nations (like the one I grew up on), who rely on the double-edged sword of tourism, finally see relief from the symptoms of tourism’s pollution and climate change?
I carved a squadron of individual balsa wood flying machines with the optimism and blue-sky creativity of a child.
But as the staggered mixed-messaging of reopening began, my idealism became more muddied. It became clear that we can no longer rely upon the existence of a safe choice. Unprecedented times. Trying to return to “normal” only introduces fresh risks, and the anxieties that erupt when we pit economic choices against epidemic realities.
How do we attempt to reopen schools, and ensure the safety of workers? When will travel and tourism be safe, not selfish?
Like a shoal of flying fish, we are leaping out of our element from the mouth of one threat to the swooping talons of another.