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Posted by Jessica Competiello at 11:55PM
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Blog posting written by Jessica Competiello, Integrated Marketing and Communications, ’20, FLEFF Intern, Jefferson, New Jersey.

 

“Even as the virus knows no barriers, neither does art. It has always been the human endeavor that nourishes the spirit when science fails,” Emiliano Ponzi.

In the midst of the global pandemic our typical encounters with art have been challenged. Museums, art cinemas, galleries are all closed. Film festivals are shut down. Studios and production are at a halt. The virus radically infiltrated into our lives and swept away all normalcy and life as we knew it suddenly and unexpectedly. 

However just like Ponzi’s quote stated, art has still found a way to prevail, comfort, and impact us during these troubling times. 

Many film festivals had to cancel or postpone their physical event due to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, many have also found ways to bring some of the festival to people in their homes online such as FLEFF, SXSW Film Festival, and the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

During all times of trouble, the art that is created is a snapshot in time and holds the stories and emotions of the human experience during those times. This pandemic has been no exception. From online festivals to street art to social media, we are seeing how COVID-19 has infiltrated into art that will define this moment in history. 

Emiliano Ponzi is a well-awarded Italian artist currently living in Milan whose bold textured illustrations have appeared all over the world.  He has recently created an illustrated chronicle of his life in Italy now that encompasses daily drawings and journal entries about his experience and the outbreak around him. 

It is presented in reverse chronological order starting with his entry from April 6thand reading backwards to his entry from March 14th. It beautifully encompasses and articulates life in quarantine from big political questions, to raw emotions, to the simplicity of mundane tasks. His work will stand as a snapshot in time for what life was like around the globe in the year of 2020. 

The piece depicts the dichotomy of the most beautiful and scariest aspects of humanity that people are experiencing during this pandemic. 

Some of the most heartwarming aspects Ponzi details are meaningful phone calls catching up with old friends. The simplicity of the joy of watching his wife pick up new hobbies such as learning daily to play piano. Him and his team creating art to be auctioned and sold to donate all profits to the Italian Red Cross. 

His journals perfectly balance the beauty of these mundane moments with the fear, anxiety, and profound sadness that people are also constantly living with. 

His entry from March 28this a simple illustration of a white chrysanthemum flower with petals falling off against a black background. It is extremely somber and reflects what his country has faced, written on the day with the highest deaths recorded in one day in Italy. He writes, “In Italy, the chrysanthemum represents sorrow and grief. And I think of that flower as we continue to tally cases, count bodies and mourn.”

A mix of grief, despair, and anguish come through in his writing while he ponders governments’ priorities globally that have led to the current situation. He questions how we live in a world where money and economy are higher on the list of priorities than human beings. 

An entry that most clearly shows the bittersweet mix of beautiful and gloomy human experiences is from March 23rdwhile he tells the story of his friend Gianluigi and his 8-year-old daughter, Alma, who lives with her mother and grandparents. Alma can no longer see her father daily as she used to for fear of bringing the virus home to her elder grandparents.

However, he sees her daughter daily while he meets her to walk her dog with her and stay away at a safe distance. The illustration with the journal entry is very simple, black and white strokes, the back of a girl on a bike with a dog on a leash and tiny red accents. The story of Gianluigi and Alma ends with, “Every tear on Alma’s face is a drop of love, a missed hug she holds for her father to the end of the isolation.”

I think everyone across the globe can relate to Ponzi’s words right now. His piece provides a sense of normalcy amongst the chaos and a sense of hope for what will come after. For all the tears we have collectively shed for moments of missed human connection, there will be many more beautiful moments waiting for us at the end of all this.

 

Emiliano Ponzi’s reflective piece: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/03/14/an-illustrated-look-italy-now/?arc404=true

More about Emiliano Ponzi: https://www.emilianoponzi.com



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