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What Are Artists Doing in Lockdown?

On 24th March 2020, a nationwide lockdown was ordered as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, it has been almost 5 months. Amid a full-fledged worldwide pandemic and the need to stay in home, we are making efforts to accept the ‘new normal’. While for some people confiding in their houses is a familiar experience, many people still struggle to get used to it. Especially for artists who used to find inspiration in their everyday experiences.

Kartik Pande is a filmmaker and photographer. Growing up in a conservative household where nobody pursued any form of art professionally, he felt becoming an artist was a challenge itself. His journey started with insecurities about how he looked so he decided to stay behind the camera, hence becoming a photographer. He mentions, “Films have also been a support system for me because when you’re surrounded with people who don’t quite understand you, you often look for answers in the fictional world.”

“The initial experience in the lockdown was really bad as I wasn't able to produce anything. My camera was in my college hostel, I got it back just last month. So, I could only use my old photos and videos to make new stuff. Also, since I was at home all the time, I learnt new softwares for editing. This majorly helped me improve my photos and videos. Other than this, I was also able to find new artists to collaborate with. I'm just waiting for the pandemic to end so that I can collaborate with these new artists I got to know. Since I was also consuming a lot of art during the lockdown, it helped me improve my own art as well.”

Photos by Kartik Pande

Anupriya Dubey is a psychology student and a poet. She’s been writing poetry for as long as she can remember, “and I write about everything- from trauma to politics. Poetry has been a way to express and let go of negative experiences and emotions."

Anupriya Dubey

“When the pandemic hit India and the lockdown was announced, I was already in my hometown. Initially, I was just happy to get an extended mid-sem break but the rapid rise in cases brought with itself anxiety and uncertainty. Moreover, being stuck with my family 24/7, and not being able to go out and socialize didn’t help. As usual, I turned to poetry but everything I wrote felt too intimate- I felt uneasy talking about my anxiety and my relationships with my family, but there was nothing else to talk about. This turned into a long writer’s block, and I couldn’t help but be frustrated about the fact that even though I felt so much, I wasn’t able to write about it. "

“Eventually, I turned to journaling. I started writing for myself, without thinking about how would an audience perceive it. After a few rushed stanzas and bad metaphors, I was able to write something decent enough to share with the world. So, while this lockdown was as bad for my art as it was for my mental health, it made me realize that somewhere I had started to write for others, and it’s better to write a bad poetry than a dishonest one.”

A poem by Anupriya Dubey

Mragank Purwar is a rapper and plays the keyboard. He has been making music for the almost one and a half years now. He says, “My journey started by discovering what rap was when one of my friends introduced me to it. And I usually try and write about unrelated things and mixing them up to make something coherent.” His process usually involves his brain starting to find little common things which might seem too far apart, “for example a common syllable between two words would do too.”

Mragank Purwar

“At the start of the lockdown I created music which really resonated with the experiences I had before I went into the lockdown. But as the days went by, the experiences died and it was really really hard to write about anything and hence it's become really difficult to make music.

“When you start to realise that as an artist you don't want to write, when you don't have anything to say, it changes you. You start questioning your intentions but on the other hand it is really freeing. I hope all artists across the world realize that creating something is never a priority, it's all about expressing what you feel.”

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