Faten Gaddes: Creativity in a Time of Crisis
Updated: May 1, 2020
How has this pandemic affected you and your creative output? How are you adapting to the new realities?
I reside in New York and since February I have been in an artist residency working on my projects. Given this pandemic, the residency organization had to suspend the program, and therefore all those projects are on hold. It was sad to see all the participating foreign artists going back to their countries just a few days after arriving in the USA.
Obviously, this crisis affects our creative production since our goals are to produce art, show our work and also be able to sell it. On a creative level, it is difficult for me to say that confinement affects me personally. On a positive note, isolation has allowed me to see that one does not need much to be creative. Conversely, it is by having little means that our creative potential is widened.
For my part, faced with this pandemic, I chose to isolate myself from the media and its “toxic information” and to focus on my art practice. The only time when I take advantage of being online is to stay updated about my family in Tunisia.
Please share any insights you have learned from this “lock-down/self-isolation”? Also, is there a special role you feel artists can play in response to the pandemic?
I remain convinced in a general way that art is one of the most powerful means of communication, especially at the moment. My own experience in isolation led me to work on a project, which focuses on changing the perception of the normal objects which furnish my daily life and which I do not see any more in the same way.
This has been an intense experience of what I might call "suspended time." I find that time is slowing down and the objects around me are taking more room, their images are becoming more focused, their colors brighter. I call this new series "Postcards from Home,” and it consists of 16 photos in where I am posed with various household items, and cleaning products that help to keep us safe from COVID-19.
I think that every artist has an important role to play in this great test, because they remain one of the most powerful communicators. As a result, there are many online projects that are being done. Some are raising awareness about confinement, etc. I also saw a very beautiful project of posters created by a group of volunteer artists to pay homage to the hospital staff and all the health workers. I think that whatever the crisis - revolution, war, epidemic, etc. - that an artistic message remains the strongest symbol of memory.
How do you think this will affect artists, the art world and how people interact with art? How do you feel this crisis might reshape our societies in general?
The good news of this epidemic is that it has not only affected the artists but everyone around the world in the same way. Tragically, all over the world people are losing jobs. So, economically, it is a disaster. And even though we are all experiencing the same thing, this gives me little comfort.
However, the key question we all need to ask ourselves is, “How long will we be able to hold on and how?” I hope that this situation will push our leaders to look truth in the face, and through this our world will learn many lessons for the future. I trust it will be more united and less individualistic, more generous and less selfish, more loving and less hateful. IN THE MEANTIME, STAY SAFE EVERYONE.
Faten Gaddes is a leading photographer born in Tunisia in 1974. She currently resides in New York. While obtaining a degree in Interior Architecture, she pursued her passion for photography, sharpening her skills through training classes, even having the celebrated Tunisian film director, Anouar Ben Aissa, as a teacher. She is a member of the Visual Art Association in Tunisia. In addition to her work being exhibited in the most respected galleries and art venues in Tunisia, her work has been showcased at premier art galleries and museums around the world - France, Morocco, South Africa, Mali, Senegal, Algeria, Portugal, Germany, Italy, as well as throughout the US. She has additionally participated in some of the most renowned international art biennales. She is the winner of the 1st Prize Award of GLOBAL CITIZEN, CARAVAN’s first juried international smartphone short film festival.