Virtual Cocoons

by Georgia Kareola

The Summer Solstice occured in the Northern Hemisphere on 20 June 2020 at 11.43 pm CET, cryptically coinciding with the opening of our Virtual Cocoons.

It is some time ago when we started thinking about a response to the pandemic, just after the start of the lockdown in Europe, and way before the height of the global crisis that followed. It’s been tragic, heartbreaking and scary to see things we seemed to be able to rely on, like healthcare systems, crumble and break apart. Our hearts are with those affected by the disease, whether it impacted, or still impacts, physical or mental health, family, livelihood, or other sources of stability and joy.

At the same time, it has been so encouraging to see artists around the world respond to this meta-crisis with vigorous, inspired and inspiring work. New social and aesthetic codes were assessed and transformed into possible new normalities; psychological implications were mapped; solutions to keep on dancing were found.

Virtual Cocoons hosts a humble selection of 15 artists, whose work reflects on - what we came to call - our involuntary cocooning. The time where we, the ‘lucky ones’ with secured housing and fast internet connections in the global West, were pushed deeper into our screens, spent hours representing ourselves in zoom-grids, and merged with the digital space and our avatars more than ever before. With privilege, as always, comes responsibility, and the theme of what will emerge when our virtual cocoons pop, has been very present in our minds. Going back to what was ‘normal’ is no option, and we have to collaborate, co-create and use our agency as best as we can to make a healthier, more connected, more caring, more equal world.

With Virtual Cocoons we offer an exploration of isolation, transformation and coping mechanisms associated with our time in quarantine. Hints are given at new futures, new ways of life, new selves. However, despite us finding our way out into the world again, now, in the midst of summer, we are by no means done with our process of transformation. That's where the virtuality of these cocoons might give us solace, as they can offer a temporary space for reflection, anytime.

Enter Virtual Cocoons