A purple rice figure was placed outside the housegate for Durga, Hindu goddess of disease and death in Bali, Indonesia. Photo credit: Garrett Kam

From fear to resilience: Story telling of COVID-19 in SE Asia

Photos, short videos and other art essays to illustrate a visual story of the Coronavirus epidemic in Southeast Asia that shows strength and hope

The new initiative has been launched by SEA-Junction and its partners to capture the other side of the story in times of the Coronavirus pandemic, with various art forms being called for; from photo sets to art essays.

SEA Juntion, a cultural platform under the Foundation for Southeast Asia Studies to forge understanding and appreciation of Southeast Asia in all its socio-cultural dimensions, has noted about the idea behind the project that these days people are inundated with photos of deaths, ICUs and suffering, creating fear as an incentive to keep them all at home.

No matter how well-meaning, this narrative of COVID-19 remains one-sided and may have many unwanted consequences, it pointed.

“We know from the HIV epidemic that fear only changes behavior in the short term and it may cause traumas and prejudices that make it more difficult to learn to live with the virus. “This narrative also leads to seeing the ‘other’ as the ‘enemy’ who can potentially infect us, triggering unnecessary stigma and discrimination that hampers the efforts to control the epidemic,” the organisation said.

So, it remarked that more needs to be done to raise understanding of the rationale of preventive measures and to provide the social and economic means to enable people to apply those.

SEA Junction therefore has come up with this initiative to invite all to make an effort to collectively provide a different visual story of the epidemic in Southeast Asia that shows strength and hope.

“We believe in the importance of reducing fear and promote informed policy and public discussion with more accurate reporting of the epidemiological realities of COVID19. We need to show that COVID19 is also a tale of survival, resilience and solidarity,” said the organisation.

The organisation joins with its partners, Beyond Food, the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women (GAATW), and Bangkok Tribune, in launching the project.

The project is now open for short stories in the form of photo essays, short documentaries, and illustrated art essays in any language of the region (to be later translated into English) or in English.

They will then be curated and showcased in a special section to be established on the organisation’s online platform and social media.

The selected visual storytelling works will then be curated and displayed during a 2-week long exhibition at BACC when the pandemic has settled.

Topics covered by the art forms include;

*cultural rituals and faith to counter our anxiety;
*experiences of quarantine (at home or at reserved locations) and survival;
*people that continue to work in essential services;
*laborers and migrant workers that keep the economy running by continuing to work in construction, agriculture, fishing, etc.;
*rural and urban community organizing to control the epidemic and provide support to the needy;
*innovation and adaptation of technology in resource poor settings;
*strategic intervention to enhance people survival beyond relief;
*people that fight for social protection and for upholding of privacy and other human rights amidst this epidemic.

Any series or ideas can be submitted at [email protected]