2020 has been a year like no other. People all around the world lived pain in more than one aspect. First is facing death; the pandemic has killed many people, loved ones, acquaintances, family members, friends, or simply public figures we used to hear from them often in the news.
Another aspect is the feeling of strangeness. Since March 2020, we have started seeing cable news, newspapers, and other media outlets images of the world’s big metropolis almost deserted (New York City, London, Rome, Paris, Madrid, and others). This situation reminds me of the early works of painter Giorgio De Chirico (1888 – 1978), who, along with Carlo Carrà, founded the “Scuola Metafisica” (Metaphysical School). This movement represents human habitats built by humans — and in normal circumstances populated by humans — acquiring a dreamlike sense when empty of people.
Another concerning aspect is the sense of isolation that the pandemic has exacerbated in many of us. I recently read that we are turning into Edward Hopper paintings, people sitting far apart in dining rooms, people observing deserted streets through windows, a woman alone in an empty movies room.
I wouldn’t say I’m an overly optimistic person, but I think that at least a pale light at the end of the tunnel can be seen these days. In the United States, a change in government leadership will radically transform the federal government response to the pandemic; a vaccine is already being distributed in many countries, country economies will start to bounce back probably after the second quarter of 2021. So, hopefully, it is just a matter of months before we start seeing some sense of normalcy back in our lives, but the question remains, what did we learn from the pandemic?
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