The Coronamovie: how the pandemic unfolds (in 36+ frames)

In a totalizing news situation as we are experiencing now, the scope a daily newspaper’s editorial staff for decision-making is on the one hand intensely constricted, while on the other seems to grow infinitely. With just one topic for weeks (and probably months to come), which affects the whole world, every area of life, every department, everyone involved in producing a newspaper – reporters, photographers, illustrators, columnists, layout artists, typesetters, etc. – appear to know exactly what is to be done. The front pages of the French daily newspaper Libération have always been a model of effective communication design. They have always allowed considerable creative leeway. This is perhaps a particularly good place to seek evidence of editorial determination in navigating through the extremely wide range of possibilities to identify the most urgent theme and its most poignant image to frame the day as it hits the – analogue and digital – newsstand. It is exemplary, how the single topic of the corona crisis is represented by the variety of its cover pages over the course its various editions. Its first cover story hesitant treating the first outbreak of the epidemic in Wuhan on January 23, 2020, then sporadically, and since March 9, uninterrupted, issue after issue, until April 22, when a title story on the potential consequences of petrol politics introduced a subject not directly related to COVID-19).  It results in a quasi-filmic movement, a sequence, a dramaturgy. The attention and interests, attuned to the expectations of the readers and to the political-journalistic agenda-setting of the newspaper, track the pandemic developments in a day-by-day rhythm. Its coverage began with reports from China (four front pages in January and February), followed by those of neighbouring Italy (two covers) and directly accompanied by a focus on the preparations in France, the impact on the financial markets and the economy in general (three covers), the government’s reactions and President Macron’s decrees of a state of emergency (four cover pictures). This continued until the front-page editorial team held their sights on the situation in hospitals and conditions for medical staff and the alterations in everyday life and the effects of the lockdown in economic and socio-psychological terms. A national event such as the death of “Asterix” illustrator Uderzo (on 25 March) brought forth a cover picture immediately placing Uderzo’s visual language at the service of corona reporting with Obelix’s menhir mutating into a virus. One could almost surmise a self-reflexive gesture by the Libé editorial staff and its visual experts, a reference to the consecutive pictorial narrative of the pandemic, the very bande dessinée, that continues here daily. TH

 

 

June 18, 2020

 

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May 30, 31, June 1, 2020

 

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May 2/3, 2020

 

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March 28/29, 2020

 

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March 14/15, 2020

 

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March 4, 2020

 

February 27, 2020

 

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February 1/2, 2020

 

January 28, 2020

 

January 23, 2020

 

April 2nd, 2020 — Rosa Mercedes / 02
Interface

Olena Lyubchenko on Whiteness, Expropriation, War, and Social Reproduction in Ukraine (via LeftEast): “[…] when we hear on the news that ‘Ukraine is fighting a European war’ and ‘Ukraine is defending Europe’, amid images of fleeing ‘poor white’ women with children prioritized over racialized ‘Others’, ‘Ukraine’ is being made ‘white’ in the global imaginary. That is, “the injunction to ‘return to Europe’ by way of Europeanization is enabled and conditioned on the mythologies of Western civilization, and that Europeanization at once marks (promulgates) and unmarks (naturalizes) racial whiteness” [Nadezhda Husakouskaya and Randi Gressgård]. The paradox is that Europe’s existence as such has only been possible precisely because of the exploitation of global working peoples through expropriation of resources and today neoliberal economic reforms and reproduced by feminized labour.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn about the “inertness, hiding behind the European Wall” (via L’Internationale): “Many Western institutions that have been claiming ‘radical political engagement’ for years, have simply resorted to a white cube radicalism and self-satisfying humanitarianism, too afraid of acting politically beyond their comfort zone and unsettling their publics and authorities by attempting to affect the decision-making process regarding the Ukrainian cause.”

May 28th, 2022

Tatsiana Shchurko on the War in Ukraine, Entangled Imperialisms, and Transnational Feminist Solidarity, via LeftEast (May 2, 2022): “[An] uneven knowledge production and the many implications of the war against Ukraine reveal the dire need to develop a feminist anti-capitalist critique of multiple imperialisms. This language should grow from within the occupied and suppressed communities of Eastern Europe and Eurasia. An anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist feminist positionality grasps that the local is part of a global in an effort to build transnational connections of mutual aid and support against state and corporate violence. For example, statements of solidarity with Ukraine expressed by the International Committee of Indigenous Peoples of Russia and Native American communities along with the anti-war feminist march in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on March 8, 2022, pointing out that the war in Ukraine should be of concern for a broad transnational community, may serve as instrumental examples of alternative anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist solidarities that stretch beyond state regulations and macro-politics and foreground decolonial perspectives, necessary in addressing entanglements of multiple imperialisms. Such solidarities also bring to light hidden interconnections of the past that allowed for distant communities to survive and support each other against the violence of imperialist intervention and its attendant capitalist exploitation. Thus, the march in Bishkek reminds of the socialist roots of the International Women’s Day to call for internationalist, intersectional, class solidarity against imperialism and militarism.”

Vasyl Cherepanyn on that “It’ll take more than tanks to ease Germany’s guilt” (via Politico): “Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Germany has been imposing neocolonial optics on its Eastern European ‘peripheries,’ and on the post-Soviet space in particular, where Ukraine was long considered a gray buffer zone about which the EU was ‘deeply concerned.’ Germany didn’t bother itself much with differentiating between former Soviet countries’ pasts. Even until recently, any Ukrainian agenda in Germany was often ‘balanced’ with a Russian perspective, so as to not exclude the latter by any means.”

An unnamed anarchist and art scholar, who joined the Territorial Defense Forces, quoted by Olexii Kuchanskyi in an essay on “Digital Leviathan and His Nuclear Tail” (via Your Art and e-flux notes): “At dawn, Dima and I talked about cinema. Dima believes that cinema is inferior to literature as a means of expression because you spend much more time with a book than a film. It’s a really interesting point, something to dig into. I studied at the department of art theory & history and I never thought of it. Dima served in the military after school and worked at the factory all his life. He listens to rap, smokes pot, and tries to have fun. He is thirty-eight, his child was born last year. He likes Wong Kar-wai and is a fan of Asian cinema in general. Dima communicates by quoting Omar Khayyam, Confucius, and other awesome guys.”

April 20th, 2022

Vasyl Cherepanyn (Visual Culture Research Centre, Kyiv) on Putin’s “World War Z” and the West’s deadly “foot-dragging”, via Project Syndicate: “The main feature of this Western condition is constant belatedness. The West has always been too late, incapable of acting ahead and instead just reacting to what has already happened. As a Ukrainian joke went at the time, ‘While the European Union was taking a decision, Russia took Crimea.’ Then as now, Ukrainians wondered, ‘What is the West’s red line? What will compel the West to act instead of waiting and discussing when to intervene?’”

Barbara Wurm on Lithuanian director Mantas Kvedaravičius, killed in Mariupol, via Die Welt: “Kvedaravičius unfolded a whole spectrum of visual anthropology over a decade with only three films [Barzakh, Mariupolis, Parthenon]. It now awaits evaluation and exploration. The time will come. The films themselves make possible an infinite immersion in the matter of the world, between dream and reality, horror and everyday life, facts and phenomenal imagology.”

April 5th, 2022
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