CHRIS THURMAN: The public looks to artists to make sense of the pandemic
Creatives have been warned not to focus too narrowly on Covid-19 but we need them to interpret it
It has become de rigueur to caution visual artists, novelists and playwrights against focusing their creative energies too narrowly on the subject of Covid-19. This a fair warning — perhaps more of a plea on behalf of galleries, publishers, agents, producers, readers and audiences — and probably also sound commercial advice. When we eventually get past this thing (so the logic goes) we won’t want to be inundated with postcorona content.
And yet … don’t we need our artists to help us make sense of this moment? To cope with what comes after? To portray the experience — and, more than merely documenting it, to define it for future generations? Moreover, if we discourage artists from taking the pandemic as their direct or indirect subject, what great works of art will we miss out on?