Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Sleep-walking along the Waterways... Un Somnambule à Reims...
The world as we know it was put on hold during lockdown, inactive and unproductive, while we held our breath, bracing ourselves, watching on from behind our windows and screens or from the front line, for every fluctuation in the normality of our lives. But outside, in the natural world, life went on as normal; business as usual. Whilst our lives were pared and scaled down to what was deemed essential, Nature flourished regardless, in its glorious fullness, no longer held back by human endeavours.
Now, however, our housebound status - weighed down by teleworking for those fortunate enough to salvage their jobs - has been slipping away like a heavy, dull load, as we venture out into the airy brightness of a spectacularly pretty Spring.
Blinking, we emerge from the confines - the shade and shelter of our domestic spaces - instinctively walking out towards the light, drawn like moths to all that we consider to be Normal. I can't help but think that much of what we hold to be normal has led us into this unprecedented situation, and that we have simply been sleep-walking in our lives, failing to see our the faults in the system and the errors of our lifestyle choices. Like moths, we have burnt our wings and I just hope that this whole affair will enable us to reconsider, to flex our wings.
Along the canal parallel to the city centre are some of the latest Levalet works, presumably post-lockdown. These seemed particularly appropriate.
The sleep-walker - le somnambule - is a recurrent theme in Levalet's form of street art which brings an ephemeral new vision to the urban walls, doors, gates, bridges and subways that are an integral part of our civilised spaces us and yet typically go unnoticed. We tend to walk on by, oblivious, focusing on some journey, but not even sure of the destination or indeed the need to go there.
These true scale, Indian ink posters are stuck in their carefully-selected sites and so remain in place until the elements finally wear them away but hopefully not before they have made passers-by ponder over this fictive reality that reflects all around us and ultimately our role therein.
During this extended period of reflection, we have all expressed intentions to make changes in our lives, and perhaps considered the consequences these may have on the world around us. I now wonder how these will translate into concrete acts. We can no longer sleep-walk; our eyes have been opened, even if but fleetingly. Mine included...