Traumberuf statt Resignation

Kurz vor dem Abgrund und dann ihren Traumberuf lebend: eine Malerin erzählt, wie der harte Italien-Lockdown im Frühjahr 2020 ihre Künstlerkarriere für immer veränderte.

What was the atmosphere like before the lockdown?

When we started to get more and more news from China and later from the WHO (World Health Organization) about this weird virus, I started to get more alarmed. Not because of Italy. Italy was keeping it all very, very quiet and was saying that there was nothing to worry about. Actually, everyone here, in Italy, was completely fine and cheerful before all of this escalated. My friends in America started to send me messages saying that I should start to prepare for a possible outbreak of the virus, which for me was ridiculous. I didn’t believe them. I started to watch broad news instead of local news, and it got me a bit alarmed. Thankfully, I was advised by my friends to think of buying supplies beforehand, normal supplies like flour and water, basic things, because they might just not be restocked or they might be sold out later. I just looked out for that, I wasn’t expecting that kind of a lockdown though. The government announced in the evening that from the next day you could not exit the north of Italy since they would be under a lockdown. The people that were in the north panicked and the moment this news were released, there were thousands of people who took trains to escape to the south. So all the people from the north that were infected, fleed to the south. It was a very big panic and a very big mess. The trains were so full that they couldn’t take all the people from the north and there were even people taking taxis to escape to the south. After a couple of days they put all of Italy under lockdown because it was useless to contain it just in the north anymore.

(Vor dem harten Italien-Lockdown hat dort kaum jemand die Situation ernst genommen. Meine Interviewpartnerin wurde durch Freunde aus Amerika vorgewarnt, wodurch sie schon zuvor einige Vorbereitungen treffen konnte. Die italienische Regierung gab einen Tag vor dem Lockdown Norditaliens diesen bekannt, wodurch eine große Panik entstand. Daraufhin versuchten die Norditaliener mit überfüllten Zügen und Taxis in den Süden zu flüchten, was zu einem komplett Lockdown von ganz Italien führte.)

That sounds horrible but you prepared beforehand. Did that help you get through the lockdown easier?

In the sense of food, it was definitely easier for me than for others because when I did buy supplies, I still bought them with a normal price. Later, in the middle of the lockdown, the prices rose because the demand was too big and Italy couldn’t import food as easy as usually. So in this case, I had it easier. The lockdown itself was not easy at all because we were forbidden to get out of the house. It was very weird because the streets were absolutely empty but you could hear people inside the houses constantly. You could hear the radios, music, singing. Since I live on the first floor, there are people above me and every single morning they would be jogging in their rooms. You could hear them stomping because they would be exercising since they couldn’t go outside. You could only go for emergency reasons, to buy food or go to work. The only work that was available were necessary jobs, like nurses or doctors. Another reason why you could go out was if you had a dog. All the hospitals closed as well to keep the numbers down since sick people would go to the hospital and infect everyone else there, so you kind of couldn’t go there for treatment. Unless it was an emergency situation, that you had to go for, like operations, but even those cases got suspended. They put people who truly needed help at risk, like people who are undergoing chemotherapy. When we had to go out, we had to write a declaration where you had to write, where you’re coming from, where you’re going, which hour you exit and which hour you want to come back. This declaration had to be shown to the police that was patrolling the streets. Also every couple of hours, there would be a car going between all the streets with an alarm, saying that you have to stay at home.

(Durch ihre Vorbereitungen war es einfacher, mit ihren Lebensmitteln auszukommen, da sie diese nicht zu den später erhöhten Preisen kaufen musste. Der Lockdown selbst war jedoch auf keinen Fall einfach. Es war verboten, das Haus zu verlassen, weshalb die Straßen auch gespenstisch leer waren, aber dafür hörte man die Menschen in den Häusern. Man durfte nur in Ausnahmefällen hinaus. Dies war für medizinische Notfälle, um notwendige Arbeit auszuführen (zum Beispiel als Arzt oder Krankenschwester), um Einkaufen zugehen oder um mit dem Hund spazieren zugehen. Die Krankenhäuser selbst wurden auf Grund der hohen Ansteckgefahr nur für Notfälle geöffnet. Zudem musste man immer, wenn man das Haus verlässt, eine Deklaration schreiben, welches die Bewegung der Bevölkerung dokumentiert und von den patrouillierenden Polizisten kontrolliert wurde.)

Since you were studying at the time, what changes did you experience at your university and how did they effect your work towards graduation?

As a sculptor, I have to do a lot of manual work and the lockdown happened three weeks before my graduation. I had my final works to do but the university got closed. The university didn’t know when they could open again since the government could not give us any answers about anything. They started to do online lessons, which was not the same because my whole experience in universities was manual. I did not have the necessary supplies and I could not even buy them because all the shops were closed. I couldn’t even buy them on Amazon because even Amazon was not working at the time. Well, you could still buy it, but it would arrive like three months later instead of one day later. Surely, it started to make me think differently because I had to make up something from just anything around myself. It made me think out of my comfort zone and I had to strain my creativity a lot. Instead of my traditional art that I usually make, I had to go for installation and stuff like that because that was the only thing around me. I graduated somewhere half a year later because of all of this.

(Meine Interviewpartnerin studierte während des Lockdowns Bildhauerei. Sie stand kurz vor der Abschlussprüfung, welche dann jedoch um ein halbes Jahr verschoben wurde. Da ihr Themengebiet sehr viel Handarbeit fordert, bekam sie große Probleme, als der Unterricht von zuhause aus stattfand. Die nötigen Werkzeuge konnte sie nicht kaufen, da alle Geschäfte geschlossen waren und auch keine Lieferungen mehr zugestellt wurden. Sie musste kreativ werden und mit dem arbeiten, was ihr in ihrer Wohnung zur Verfügung stand.)

What changes did you see in your job as an artist and why did they happen?

I went from a traditional artist to a comic and online artist and I am now a freelancer. That’s a big change. I was very lucky that I kept my online community as a hobby the previous years. I had to rethink everything because if I thought of working for a company or working for public before, now I had to make it online and more independent because, in case a situation like this happens again, the only one that you can depend on is yourself and not a company or someone else. When the lockdown hit, my family and I lost our jobs. And I realized that I can manage this month, but the next month I won’t manage anymore. I had to ask for support from people online, and to my surprise, everyone was very helpful and understanding. The first months, I got a lot of support from my followers that were just my hobby all these years before. It does sustain me as a normal job now. So, yeah, I’m just drawing online now. I kinda made it.

(Der Lockdown hatte auch große Auswirkungen auf ihre Arbeit. Vorher verdiente sie ihr Geld als traditionelle Künstlerin, nun arbeitet sie als selbstständige Comic- und Onlinekünstlerin. Früher war ihr Plan, für ein Unternehmen oder die Gesellschaft zu arbeiten, aber nun hat sie eingesehen, dass falls so etwas nochmal passiert, sie sich nur auf sich selbst verlassen könne. Ihre Familie und sie verloren auf Grund des Lockdowns ihre Arbeit und verloren somit ihre Lebensgrundlage. Meine Interviewpartnerin wendete sich an ihre online Community, welche sie mit ihrem Verständnis und Hilfsbereitschaft überraschten. Diese Unterstützung ermöglichte es ihr, ein Hobby zu ihrem Beruf zu machen.)

Sounds like you had a lot of obstacles to overcome.

Yeah, sure, I mean, it makes you think differently about absolutely everything in your life.

(Alle diese Ereignisse veränderten ihren Blick auf die Welt.)

-Zur Person: Eine selbstständige Online-Künstlerin, welche aus persönlichen Gründen anonym bleiben möchte. Von Anfang des Jahres 2020 bis zum Zeitpunkt des Interviews wohnte sie in Italien und erlebte dort den strengen Lockdown. Sie ist zwar keine Italienerin, wohnte aber während der Quarantäne als Studentin in Rom und strebte ihren Master-Abschluss in Bildhauerei an.

Text: Anja Vogel; Bild: Pixabay (sumanley) ; Interview geführt am: 20.11.2020

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