Still Life — Natura Morta: the landscapes of proximity

Sasa Dobricic, University of Nova Gorica

Marco Acri, University of Nova Gorica

The proliferation of interpretations arising with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency is characterised by a common concern: how do we make sense of the pandemic? Although we have all learnt about difficulties that making science imposes, the investigation and knowledge of virus remains anchored to the realms of science, while the rest of humanity is realising that ‘healthy society’ needs more than one voice. This multitude of voices and apprehensions are running in parallel with a daily updating upon the spread of the pandemic, being mainly circumscribed around the most tactile experience that has affected humanity: How to make sense of social distancing and of all other consequences that restrictions have caused? To make sense of efforts we are called to make, it is obviously not enough just to acknowledge the goal: in this case the limitation of COVID widespread for the sake of the common safety.

Making sense re-quires that ‘individual will’ somehow convincingly adheres to a higher purpose. As a matter of fact, the finality, the purpose, without a genuine adherence to it, cannot assure us nothing but a quite elementary role which is functional to a purpose, but certainly is not yet a sense-generator, although act-ing as a good source of motivation. But in a highly uncertain and unpredictable context, the desire to achieve the common goal might appear as driven by some kind of subtle persuasion, which annihilates any sense-generating action. Indeed, so far, we have been witnessing many episodes where the slightest doubt about the nature of our will calls immediately into question the very meaning of our actions, i.e., efforts.This is the reason why often these reflections up-on making sense of pandemic, or making sense of the distancing and other consequent efforts that at this stage is required, often emerge under other than purely functional or purpose-oriented interpretations, searching for a deeper meaning in the current pandemic situation such as: what have we learnt from this situation? Will this epidemic make us wiser? Are we on great learning curve? What is the sense of an effort to achieve a goal whose envisaging is at any moment undermined by contradictory assertions and unpredictable factors? In other words, how to make sense of something that can appear in any moment as a non-sense? This paper will question just some assumptions that stubbornly drive contemporary spatial interpretation, although the current pandemic situation revealed the deficiencies that afflict their reliability with almost striking honesty.

Static cities, empty buildings and discarded pieces of public life on one side, and on the other, the overexploitation of domesticity and its glittering on-line performance, all together merge into unsteady and highly contradictory structures that hint a new light and open to different narratives of their functionality or on sudden lack of it.These contradictions are punctually reflected in terminology and requirements that proliferate in pub-lic jargon: oxymorons such as ‘new normal’, ‘social distancing’, as well as those that point at inconsistencies of current living conditions, such as, be-ing a flexible worker by staying rigidly at home or even ‘remote learning’ which is experienced rather as mystifying contradiction by many children to-day. Although, we have realized that ‘doing nothing’ for some time might have an unexpected and beneficial personal, social and environmental con-sequence, can the encouragement of key driving oxymoron ‘doing nothing’, for the sake that nothing happens, be comparable to doing something? In other words, do these new agglomerations of sense, although still puzzling, open to a new learning and sense-generating strategy beyond inevitably denouncing that the prevailing assumptions somehow do not keep pace with the increasingly turbulent expressions of the changing world?


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University of Florence

University of Florence


The University of Florence is an important and influential centre for research and higher training in Italy