Questa pandemia dovrebbe spingerci a una riflessione sui nostri stili di vita.
[This pandemic should motivate us to rethink our life still.]

Una intervista de la Giornalista di l’Ovadese, Italia, pubblicata giovedi 26 novembre 2020: Patrizia Pesce – [ Journalist at l’Ovadese, Italy. An Interview published Thursday November 26, 2020 – Not planned, but symbolically during Thanksgiving day in the USA.]

My Full Original Interview [ English version]

Last spring, during the first period of this pandemic, you sent us an image of a sad New York behind big people. What’s the meaning of that? I did not invent this image, I draw from my fire escape window the scene I saw underneath me in the street, exactly live. I did not start with a particular intention in my mind. I observed with my own eyes first, and then I let the drawing process unfold on its own, naturally.
It is not exactly like working with a camera because the input is very different, one must consider the “superiority” of a drawing hand over a photo machine: you are free to compose and organize shapes as you evolve within the drawing’s process. Of course, it is not as simple as that, in this particular case the “ mood” is very important, more so than in any other working circonstances.
If you find yourself living an “ anormal “ situation, behind under great uncertainty, pressure and stress, it will definitely impact your work….even if you feel just extremely cold or hot. A “work of art “ should never be planed and done with the prime intention to be “ published “,  no more than a woman deliver a child with the idea that she will help populate the planet. It is an act of nature. Being an artist is just being part of this process. It doesn’t give you more or less rights, and your opinion is not more or less valuable than the one of an other person, artist are not born with privileges, even so some would like to make you believe the contrary …unfortunately, in modern times, artist’s image have been recycled to influence in the Medias and in advertising sales…or, not less worse in self promotion.

In your job social issues are so important…. If you have to represent pandemic now, what aspects would you bring out from the visual point of view? 
All issues are important, social, or being involved in “ social” issues are, in my opinion, a duty the artist has to provide, or better said, to offer to his/her follow citizen, but it is only a portion of his/her craft. If an artist cannot feel for nature, cannot draw a tree or a figure, what help can he/ she provide to her/ himself and in general to the public? For this reason an artist must be able to work/represent any different kind of “ themes “, and “ social “ is just one of them. But it remains a very difficult one, because it could become, depending the circumstance and how it might be received, helpful or damaging. 
While, what ever you paint a good or a bad landscape, it doesn’t have any impact. “Social “ themes, involve a sense of “responsibility” from the creator point of view at the very moment his/her work is published or made public, even if he/ she denies it or not aware of. If it remains private, then the question must be raised differently, but nowadays “privacy “ tend to disappear quickly, so unless the artist decides to destroy his/ her own work, at one point it will be “ unclassified “ ( so to speak) and therefore be judged, argued, glorify or condemn …and there is NO way to escape from this process, mild or harsh there will always be sentencing, no matter what!
It is, simply, a mechanism that can get easily out of control…What triggers a public response to an image remains for me a mystery. it happens that the artist’s work is been given an interpretation or a meaning he/she never intended to be given on the first place. Dangerously enough, at times the public has been fed by image’s symbols. For example, the very same “sign” [ graphic element] used on the German’s Nazi flag can be found as far as in early Greek’ poetry, (at the Louvre Museum), as simply a decorative element without zero political intention!  But then, just try to explain this factor to a public today who has already in scripted it on its mind, or reverse the element of “ideology” or “trauma “ associated with such a “sign”. (?) 
Personally, I will not want to work in an issue I don’t feel comfortable with, or just, not ready yet for. A pandemic is a situation that put people under tremendous stress, to the point that you might not die from the virus, but from the “ stress “ itself.  Pandemic and panic are very much linked, people living with fear have irrational behaviors, as the result, their emotions are taking over… but it is a situation where no one can be too smart about it, because anyone of us could be the next victim of it.
Representing graphically, for example the “mask “ as a relevant symbolic element, is not, in my opinion, the point. But, rather the face or the body who translates the fear. The hardest is not to represent the outside but rather the inside: the “ how do you feel about it?” An other important factor, it has created a situation of “ isolation “, whatever it is imposed or self imposed.  Plugging people to experience “ loneliness”, and there is neither joy nor hope coming out of this!
But, more likely, the public doesn’t want that, it wants to believe that it is Christmas everyday, to be feed with something that will keep the mind away from its own tragedy. It is on constant deny… this is why it is so easy to be manipulated, it is a consumer of “ joy and happiness “, feeling good and indulging itself. This is a very dangerous behavior, because wanting not to be reminded who [ or what] is our real enemy put people off guard, out of focus, and out of concentration for dealing with a crucial situation. It is like not holding into the commands of your boat while facing a raging storm.

How you’re living this period and it’s good for your artistic ispiration?
I am not a Superman, Fabricio d’ André has said that “ the artist is a rabbit that is hiding and in fear”. So, of course, I wish the pandemic, that means restrictions, would end soon, for my own and selfish connivence first, while maybe turning the circumstance to pretend being an heroic thinker…(other use it to make big money.)
But, the truth is that this “ fearful “ and restricted situation forces me to test myself, there is no other choices but to call for my all strength and acknowledge my weaknesses, furthermore it teaches me to consider that life is for a limited time only. People believe they are just in this earth to live, rather we are from the start programmed to die…it is just a condemnation we ignore the date, but will fall at some point upon us!  There is no escape, this factor razes our signs of vulnerability! Still, while we have given the option to live, we should not spoil it, but rather try to enhance it.
I have survived the epicenter pandemic of New York, there is no guaranty I will be able to survive the Parisian one! Interestingly enough, two large cities with two different responses for me to acknowledge… I am not “repeating” myself in the same spot, I have been experiencing two different worlds, even so they are affected by the same element. I’m sure in Italy the response it of a different kind as well! 
So far, I have witnessed some people negative reactions I wouldn’t never have ever anticipated. Maybe, this is the most devastating part of it. People showing a different light of themselves, it is a tragic and sad side of it…how it transforms people, how they might go to the point of suspecting you will contaminate and kill them… like suddenly your yesterday’s, [so called[, friend, has turn out being your worse enemy. Suspicion, over suspicion, the ‘ doubt’  created might  push us into a sort of civil war! Meanwhile, a handful of people are making a fortune out of it. “Divide and conquer “.

What kind of atmosphere are you living in New York. In Italy we’ve who don’t trust in Covid presence… What are your feeling about that?- In your opinion what kind of world you imagine after pandemic? Do you see a link between pandemic and western life style, climate changes?
There is a lot that has been spoken and written about this subject. In our western world we live, again Fabricio’s words “ il regime della tua culpa”, so “ blame” is part of our rationale. When ever humans can use this feeling as a “weapon”, as a justification of their rightful causes and believes, so they will not hesitate to appropriate it to themselves. There is also a lot of speculations on who is “ guilty “ of what. The “blame” is like a tennis ball that flips constantly from one player to an other, or like pendulum of and old clock shifting from one side to an other…
I’m neither a heavenly inform person nor a prophet, I consider myself as good or as bad as anybody else in this matter.  Certainly, over the years I have made choices ( of different impacting effects ), and at times naively, on the believe of “ improvements “, not just for myself, but because  [at times] I thought it might help the common good as well. 
Would it help? I can’t say. But I don’t own a car, I walk and bike, I gave up eating meat, I try starting my day doing some light physical exercises, I don’t own much physical things… and I have utilized recycling material to do my art work, few year ago I taught myself drawing on an electronic tablet so I don’t have to use any materials at all… still it requires electricity!  I try staying healthy, the less chance for me to occupy an hospital’s bed and burden my fallow citizen and the system. On the mean time, on my own level, I have not given hope of remaining helpful ( inspiring) to others. Being able to function physical and mentally, not only and just to enjoyed it, but rather to serve a purpose, so other could benefit as well, or at least to harm less from by the choices I have made!
While we are focusing on this particular virus, we tend to forget about other sicknesses or accidents. One year ago my nephew died from a brain tumor, nothing could save him, it was before the virus. Would you say, because of this, he died less or more? Go an explain this to his partner and his daughters! Any illnesses would always remain a question mark to our “worthiness”…individually, of course, but now in the Covid case as a group as well. 
When the virus started to affect your country every other one was laughing at the Italians. Now, when recently Paris was getting “red”, it became the turn to the Italians blaming the French and implementing restrictions on their borders…are we going to totally loose our sense of decency? And now that we are just about to be again equally dying and infected, what is the lesson to learn from this? We have to stop this soccer game mentality and rather consider teaming together, rather than competing meaninlessly against each other.
In any even who can claim there will be an end to this pandemic? Are we so sure to be well informed about it? Who looses and who wins from it? How has it already transformed our lives, our way of thinking, our values, and for some of us, our religions beliefs? Years ago, started a deadly virus that is still around, HIV AIDS…no one says a word about it anymore, but I know of someone that as recently die from the consequences of contracting it. Showing the light on one issue, should not dine the light on equally important others ones. But, it is exactly what it is occurring now! it does not matter the given name of a particular deadly virus or illness, what counts is an urgent determination to get rid of it. So, the values that we project as a society are part of the [ any] healing process, as well.
Now, suppose that we, all the humans on this planet will die, would it be a win or a lost and for whom? Would it stop the trees to grow, the birds to fly, the fish to swim, the monkeys to run? What, as human beings, have we been contributing to this planet that we deserve to live? In New York, during the lockdown, I observed that the only people who were out working on the streets, were the so called “ immigrants “and the poorest, (they were the ones bringing food and packages to a population who was sheltering safely themselves indoors.) Is it because their lives were not considered “ worse” much, ( and besides, they did not had other choice in order to survive )? Does this means that some portion of the society believes that it wouldn’t make much difference if an other group of people will  live or die? Worse, that it ok to be scarified? Sometimes, when circumstances are extreme, one would assume it would inspire “ brotherhood “, but it might revel, instead, “ cruelty “! And this too, is part of the suffering.
And of course, the pigeons and the rats didn’t need any tests and passes to move freely around…with no human trying to chase or poison them. It was their turn, and the only moment, in the history of New York City where they could feel safe!

What do you think about USA vote… Biden is going to change anything, not only in comparison with Trump but for traditional USA politics? It is not just very hard, but it would be unfair for me to argue such a case, because I never been involved in what is called  “politics”,  less in a political party. My understanding is that western civilization people are still dreaming of finding a “ savior “, a “leader” who will provide them with plenty full of goods and happiness. Cesar already explained it “ give them bread and games”, nowadays it is pastries, gelato and video games…and porno. (The last two total 80% of internet traffic). 
It is not possible anymore to talk about one specific country’s politics alone. What ever country you wish to pick, one must know its history, its foundation and how the political and economical system has been set at the very start.  For example, a person with a certain physical body would not change size and shape by changing shirts, or dressing code. He/she may look worse or better but the significance will remain marginal. That is to say, the way a system/society function ( or dis-function) in one place, remains at times, so specific and unique that it cannot be comprehended by any outsiders, because it is simply too foreign from their own world reality. What cannot be properly understood, cannot properly and effectively be judged…and even less remedied. 
Wearing an “ I love NY” T-shirt will never make a Italian a true New Yorker, no more than eating pasta makes a New Yorker an real Italian… authenticity has to be felt from inside out and not the reverse.
Still, during this hard time where we are all looking for answers, maybe there is a factor expressed by Albert Einstein that we may consider: “ You cannot solve the problem with the same mind that created the problem “.

Copyrights © Raymond Verdaguer 2020, Parigi, Novembre 14, 2020

Dessin . drawing . disegni . original linoleum cut and woodcut . linogravure originale et gravures . xilografie e incisioni – iPad [works-travail-lavoro] . Copyrights © Raymond Verdaguer 2020

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