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The Quarantine Maps

14 works
20 x 20 cm
Pen and ink on paper
Drawn in Beijing during enforced home quarantine, fourteen Quarantine Maps trace a solitary experience of enforced enclosure and habitual migration from room to room. Transpiring as the ambling of a captive held within the home, the work relies on the immediate domestic environment as a funnel for creativity during a crisis. Drawings are made in conjunction with constant absorption of both formal and informal news. Labelling takes dominance, channelling the impact of the literal. The maps are collectively drawn in sketchbooks as a direct result of availability. The sketchbooks offer cotton paper, portability, and slightness, becoming salient tools for survival.

Fourteen days

In March 2020, I spent fourteen days in home quarantine in Beijing.
The Quarantine Maps were created during this time, chronicling a period of personal anxiety and helplessness amidst a fast-spreading pandemic. These sketchbook works eventually developed into a large-scale drawing titled Quarantine + Pandemic Survival Map, where humour untangles the hard truths of life under the dominance of a globally inflicted virus.

New-found interiority

With so much time in normal life spent walking, being trapped indoors for two weeks felt unnatural and ironic as a narrator of place. Returning to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in early March 2020 ushered in acknowledgement that life would no longer be normal – but the experience of quarantine still felt unprecedented. Life indoors became a pursuit of understanding and seeking knowledge; the only option to expel creativity would be to draw what was happening within the confines of my apartment and mind.

Isolation phases

The documentation process identified three distinct phases. First, the novelty factor – being almost nonchalant about the quarantine, making lists of lost hobbies and pointlessly arranging socks. Second, self-absorption – succumbing to obsessions over random ideas until the world outside and its suffering supersede them as unavoidable realities. Finally, helplessness and confusion – goaded by hyper media consumption and stories of friends in trouble. Switching off remained the goal throughout, but tuning in was key to building a sense of agency for collective survival.