tirsdag 23. mars 2021

One Good Thing: An artist preserves Wuhan’s COVID memories

Scribbled instructions for incoming patients plastered on the window of a silent hospital reception counter. A lone worker in a hazmat suit, steadily spraying disinfectant in an empty hospital hallway. Such scenes from the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan — moments of fear and desperation as well as unity and resilience — are etched in the mind of artist Yang Qian.

One year on, she is channeling those memories into artwork to preserve the memory of the central Chinese city’s 76-day lockdown that upturned the lives of some 11 million people. In a way, that’s an extension of her work as a volunteer delivering vital supplies to hospitals and residents during the traumatic period, while also reflecting the pride many residents take in having weathered the outbreak and draconian measures taken to bring it under control. “To express what I’ve seen in a realistic way, this is the responsibility I’ve given myself. I also hope that much of the history should not be forgotten,” Yang said.

A painter by trade, she felt helpless in the face of an unknown virus ravaging her beloved hometown in January 2020. Fear gripped the city as authorities abruptly shut its residents in their homes and froze transport links on Jan. 23.