Pandemic Chronotope is a web project and installation that combines traditional Russian illustration, digital animation, and personal anecdotes to explore the impact of COVID-19 on our daily lives.
During the global lockdown in 2020, Russian artist, UX designer, and Strelka alumna Mariia Fedorova solicited submissions from the general public about their lockdown experiences. She integrated the submissions into chapters of the Slavic folk tale The Firebird, using the salvation offered by the Firebird as a parallel to the invention of a vaccine and as a symbol of light, happiness, and luck.
Ultimately, this work uses the notion of fairy tales as representations of the current world order to comprehend the rules of the new, pandemic world. It further explores the traditional structure of the folk tale which demonstrates what is safe and what is dangerous through a simple dichotomy. The parallel is not lost on the situation with COVID-19, which formed similar perceptions of our safe home and the dangerous outside.
The project has been exhibited in Beijing and Seoul as part of World on a Wire, a project by Rhizome of the New Museum and Hyundai Motor Company, bringing rendered fragments of The Firebird to life by using several phenakistoscopes—a type of pre-cinema animation device. The phenakistoscope further reinforces an interplay of historical and contemporary forms of storytelling, simulation, and the falsity of reality.
The upcoming installation of Pandemic Chronotope in the Moscow edition of the World on a Wire project will bring the final story of lockdown to life by using a zoetrope—another type of pre-cinema animation device. It will be shown in September 2021.
All images courtesy of the artist