Two and a half months of forced isolation. Loneliness, all of a sudden. My only friends are my thoughts and the sea, which I can reach only with my eyes, gazing out of the window. As if it were the first time, I find myself face to face with an infinity that smells of saltiness and sounds like sometimes slow and sometimes thunderous waves that mark days, nights, hours, all otherwise identical. We will remember it as the time of the Coronavirus; of the quarantine that seems to have no end; of the gloomy list of the dead; of the meeting that Wes place everyday at sunset, a contemporary version of a war bulletin. We count the dead, the wounded, the survivors too: few, too few. It is the triumph of empty time. The cities are emptied; we are emptied, without our undelayable tasks, our pressing duties, our long lists of chores to be done; we, who are forced to a disconcerting hermitage we had never looked for. Homo solitorius out deus out bestia: Aristotle.
But we did not aspire to that much. We would have been satisfied with dragging ourselves in our busy lives, marked by small daily selfishness, by the meanness of some so-called good deeds that require no effort, trifles to soothe our consciences. It would have been enough to go on with the miserable joys of owning things that qualified us and in which we could identify ourselves: a house, a dress, a car, a mobile phone – even a love. And always ready to suddenly throw away the old for the new, in a spasmodic search for more – an anchor that would have never satisfied us. We worded about having, because afraid to face being. Then, a virus, an invisible, unknown and cruel organism, came and urged us to deal with ourselves. When in captivity, everyone reacts as he can, as he is able to. There are those who feel as if they were on the verge of getting out of their minds, and there are those who take advantage of it to put their cabinets and lives in order.
There are those who reformulate their scale of values and rediscover muted feelings. There are couples who have children, others who can no longer stand each other and break up. I think we are so lucky, being able to entertain ourselves with art. Our way out is plain to us. We still have the possibility to let our souls be caressed by great visionaries, half crazy and half prophets, as the artists are. So, why don’t we yield to them or have their works translated by those who can do it, by critics, writers and poets?
It is from these reflections that the idea of dedicating a whole issue of ArtelnWorld to the effects of Covid-19 on the arts industry came from. A testimony of the present with some guessing about the future. Nothing will be as before. Perhaps. We should not hope in the desire to imitate Tancredi in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s “Gattopardo”: everything must change, so that nothing changes.