1. We Are All In This Together 2020-2024

Moving The Goalposts (2024)

1. We Are All In This Together, 2020-2024

Since March 21st, 2020, like everyone else in the UK, I was taken out of my daily routine. Throughout the lockdown, I made notes to understand my constant feelings of dread and despair.

The televised UK government press conferences broadcast every afternoon in spring 2020 stressed that we would get through the pandemic together and beat the virus. We were told the speed of recovery depended entirely on our collective ability to follow government advice. The government claimed to be led by science, but their lack of strategy has made me question their approach.

In the context of the pandemic and its potentially fatal consequences for everyone, I felt that to a certain extent, the lockdown restrictions were justified. However, how we were controlled and told to follow the regulations was a different matter. I felt threatened by the speeches since they were not genuine, and I thought the speakers did not believe what they were saying themselves. “The government would put its arms around every single worker,” we were told. Yet they were not prepared to invest resources to control the virus. I did not find it difficult to stay at home under instructions; having lived in a dictatorship for half of my life, I was not as frightened of the authoritarianism of the UK government and the threat of punishment which goes with it than I was of the East German regime.

Rereading my notes in 2022 and evaluating my own reaction to the virus, I feel what I witnessed was the government’s carelessness and their inability to respond in time. There was no balanced perspective; everything seemed to be politicised and full of military jargon, using war-related language to make the government seem less accountable for their failures. The daily death toll and the statistics used to count them dominated my thoughts. While the rules were in place, everybody in work had to follow quite strict protocols: one-way systems, masks, risk assessments, 2m social distancing, and work bubbles to minimise the chance of infection or transmission.

While these rules were followed religiously by most people, they did not seem to apply to 10 Downing Street, whose officials and political masters were able to travel and mix at numerous events throughout lockdown. Had the government deliberately exaggerated the risks of the disease? Their behaviour in this emergency should surely be seen as a national security risk. What if there were a worse threat to come? How could the government ask people to trust their instruction? What would they do if people failed or refused to comply?

Could it be that it was more about deliberately scaring people, using fear as a tool to control and influence behaviour, an exploratory fishing exercise to find out how far they can go? This thought reminds me of my life in the former GDR and echoes the emotions, fears, alarm bells, and the feeling of powerlessness I had hoped to escape when the Berlin Wall came down.

For the following pieces, I was reflecting on the authoritarian structure and the ethics around using fear to manage people by creating the lockdown rules, manipulating the use of language, and capitalising on the emotional and personal impact of the mixed messaging throughout this crisis.
I have used only publicly available data, my own photographs, and my notebooks as a starting point for my exploration.

List of Works:

84 Square Metres, Floating (2020-2023)

84 mounted photographs are organised in a grid,
the installation size is at least 165cm high and 400 cm wide,
image size 15.5cm h X 11.6 cm w, C-print

The Promise Of Spring, (2020/2022)

3 Composite of images with text, each 1.20m X 1.20m, c prints

Turning The Tide (2020-2023)

84 mounted photographs organised in a grid,
the installation size is at least 165cm high and 400 cm wide
image size 25cm h X 18.8 cm w, C-print

Play Your Part (2020-2021)

Triptych, each panel 1.22m h X 2.44m w,
text hand written with white chalk on MDF blackboards

Take It On The Chin (2020 -2021)

16 wooden grid frames ( each 1.14m h X 1.34 m w) with 384 photographs ( c- prints ) and 152431cm coloured thread
in two rows (2.30 m h X 10.80m w)

Rules Are Rules (2020/2022)

2 Composites of all transcripts of Covid related daily UK government briefings (3rd. March 2020 to 23rd June 2020),
1.60m h X 1.20m w each, c print;

“Never saw a cake”, sound collage by Anna Power

One way Road to Freedom (2021/2022)

composite of 24 single images ( 30X40cm each) mounted on dibond and installed with batten fixings and floating on black wall , size of display variable

Without Consequences, 2024

3 Composites of images with text, measuring 1.52m X 1.52m, c-print