Letters against Separation on e-flux conversations

Letters against Separation on e-flux conversations


Wuhan, China, March 30, 2020. EFE/EPA/Roman Pilipey.

April 4, 2020
Letters against Separation on e-flux conversations

Dear friends,

As people around the world retreated into self-isolation, Hito Steyerl suggested “Letters against Separation” as a way of staying together: a collective project where writers from different parts of the world reflect on how Covid-19 has impacted them, their loved ones, their cities, and their work. Through a series of short, diary-like passages on e-flux conversations, the writers share their experience of this pandemic as its runs its course. And perhaps their words can, in some way, help us to turn this isolation into a form of kinship. 

Since we started publishing the letters, artists and writers from Asia, Europe, and North America have penned their insights about our new condition. From racing across Europe to get home before the borders close, to enduring two months of familial self-isolation in Beijing; from juggling new domestic duties of care, to questioning whether a return to the “old normal” is even desirable, the contributors to “Letters against Separation” offer lucidity and wisdom in the midst of a perplexing historical moment. We invite you to read each contributor’s thread below; we will continue publishing them over the next week, and revisiting these observations as the current situation continues.

“Letters against Separation” is loosely based on Boccaccio’s Decameron, which is structured as a mise-en-abyme—a story written by a group of young people sheltering in a secluded castle during the plague. 

Liu Ding, Liu Qingshuo, and Carol Yinghua Lu as a family in Beijing

Irmgard Emmelhainz in Mexico City

Claire Fontaine in Italy

Hanmin Kim in Seoul

Bahar Noorizadeh in London

Oxana Timofeeva in rural Russia

About the authors

Carol Yinghua Lu is a writer and curator, Liu Ding is an artist, and Liu Quingshuo is their son. The family is based in Beijing.

Irmgard Emmelhainz is an independent translator, writer, researcher, and lecturer based in Mexico City.

Claire Fontaine is a feminist conceptual artist founded in Paris in 2004.

Hanmin Kim is a graphic novelist, a translator of the poems and essays of Fernando Pessoa, and an activist with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

Bahar Noorizadeh is a writer, filmmaker, and artist working across video, performance, and installation.

Oxana Timofeeva teaches philosophy at the European University in St. Petersburg, and is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, Russian Academy of Science (Moscow).

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April 4, 2020

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