Katja Novitskova's studio. Courtesy of the artist

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“My quarantine has been both a very intense and calm experience. Due to chronic health issues, I’ve been very careful and isolating with my partner in Amsterdam, away from my studio in Berlin, and I stopped traveling.

I sadly haven’t been able to go to the studio for a couple of months now, and it has been affecting my creative faculties, for sure. I love being there and prototyping new works with my hands, and this hasn’t been possible. At the same time, a lot of exhibitions have been postponed, so the usual deadline stress subsided and I’ve found myself almost enjoying the quiet monotony of the quarantine. This sense of enjoyment is usually interrupted by an existential fear of losing my livelihood and for the fate of millions of people affected by the crisis.

My reaction to being stuck at home and away from my studio has been to refocus on other types of engagement and practice. I’ve been regularly doing online artist talks and classes for various institutions, but I’ve also been going back to the basics of my work, making digital images and sketching sculptures using software. I’ve decided to become more fluent in and confident about working with 3D graphics software, with the aim of producing more digital work and sketching out possible and impossible sculptures. These experiments will hopefully introduce and amplify new modes of making art for me, possibly resulting in both physical installations and works in digital environments.

I have also been reading a lot of think pieces about the current crisis and considering its social and ecological implications. And the new works that I’ve been making have been connected to the core topics of the situation we are in: the ecological relationships between living things and how they can cascade out of balance; the realities and potential of biotechnological industries to control or exacerbate these relationships; the collective narratives surrounding events that happen on a global scale and the apocalyptic trajectories of the future.

It has been important to see how fast the world can change. Whatever order we have is pretty fragile and relies on the constant drive of monetary, human, and mineral resources. It is important to also acknowledge the inequalities of the corona and post-corona world: The poorest workers in many countries have been the ones without the possibility to self-isolate. Both within the artworld and beyond it, a lot of stable positions and guarantees have been dismantled, at least temporarily. And so I’m worried about the consequences for smaller and medium-scale institutions, artists, and artworld workers. A lot of people are facing a precarious existence at the moment, and I think it will affect the art that we will be able to make and see in the near future.

I hope the past few months will open up pathways for the world to move toward greater global solidarity and ecological awareness. Now would be a great time to restructure harmful industries and perhaps remodel how our societies function, from shared social contracts to the main drivers of economies. Despite all the gloom, there is a real window of opportunity for the new, more ecologically and socially sustainable paradigms to be tested and implemented.”

Presented by UBS and Art Basel

June 2020