The pandemic in stories and images

the pandemic in stories and images Oradea researcher develops an original project

Life is a sequence of stories, in the long run. More pleasant or more thought-provoking, meaningful or dull, stories are similar to one another and are at once different from one another, in much the same way as human beings are. Little wonder, then that, having to comply with the lock-down, people from all around the world were eager to find out what kind of stories their fellow men shared.

In Oradea, a researcher based with the Citadel Museum, having entered into the furlough scheme at work, set for herself the task to document the period we have been going through. Cristina Liana Puscas holds a Doctor's degree in history. She firmly believes that, over the years, info and images will be needed, as well as the account of as wide a range as possible of experiences, shared by the people who this year have been facing the pandemic. Accordingly, Cristina Liana Puscas has generated some sort of historical research, to a certain extent interdisciplinary, as part of the project titled "Living a life in the time of the pandemic." 

"The test was made of 25 questions we have created. We devised a questionnaire made of 25 points, which we launched in the public space. We mainly wanted to find out how Oradea-born individuals, be they from Bihor or living abroad, who were native speakers of Romanian, have perceived this pandemic, this incident in the history of humankind. On April 22, 2020, we launched the questionnaire, and so far 321 people have filled it in. Of course, not all the filled-in questionnaires we have received will be validated, for a number of reasons. To me, the interest in that seems great, I believe 200 answers will definitely qualify for validation. The questionnaire has been filled in online, so it does have a drawback because of that, since those who filled it in had access to the Internet, whereas many other people have been left out because they couldn't provide their answers to our questionnaire. So the answering category, these people are university-degree respondents who also had access to the Internet." 

That is what Cristina Liana Puscas told us. Cristina also specified she got answers countrywide, from Bihor, Satu Mare, Sălaj, Cluj, Timiş, Arad, Bucharest, but also from New York, Vienna  and Hamburg. Cristina Liana Puscas also gave us details on the types of questions, and on the answers. 

"What was the project you had to give up on, the moment you had to enter lock-down? Quite a few of them answered they had to renounce their vacation, the refurbishment of their homes, a new job or going to a theater show, or going to church. Those who stayed to home or worked from home and strictly complied with the lock-down, they have been very affected. Yet those who traveled to work, they didn't seem to be frustrated by the lock-down as much as the other people."

Another question sought to find out what people found it most difficult to adapt to, under the new lock-down circumstances. Cristina Liana Puscas:

"Respondents seem to have found the lack of socialization as the hardest thing to adapt to, they missed their siblings, their friends and even their colleagues at work. Lock-down life was very burdensome especially for some of the mothers, who told us the roles they were supposed to play were way too many: they had to be schoolteachers, mothers, employees working from home, wives, sitters, physicians, psychologists, massagists, hair stylists, pedagogues, German or English teachers. Also, they found it hard to adapt to the new rituals, disinfection, filling in the affidavits, giving up on having a walk, on that freedom of movement."

For most of the respondents, their couple lives were the least affected during lock-down, even though some of the answers played upon such little jokes as "I don't like to have three meals a day", or "I just don't understand why my wife tries to organize my own life", or "that is so very obvious, we have different biological rhythms". Spending time in lock-down turns you towards the inner world, so taking that into account, Cristina Liana Puscas devised further questions to cover that situation:

"What were the little joys that you discovered during lock-down days ? Some of them knew to make the most of that period; they discovered the sun, sipping their coffee, cooking, reading, gardening, and their families."

According to an old Chinese proverb, "an image is worth a thousand words", so Cristina Liana Puscas has concurrently run a project titled  "Photographs during the pandemic." What did she notice about the pictures she received?

"All of them are taken from the window or from home. A window that usually looks out on the courtyard outside. A lady sent me a photograph of herself with her head shaved during the pandemic lock-down. A gentleman from Satu-Mare sent me a photograph of a woman kneeling on the steps of a church. All photographs related to home life, very few of them had to do with the outside world."

Such projects are still ongoing, by all means. Optimism favors dreaming of better days, yet realism prompts us to reassess what is really important for us. In her work, Cristina Liana Puscas told us people did realize nature was very important for them, while no less important was having the dearest ones around them.

(Translation by Eugen Nasta)
Publicat: 2020-07-28 14:00:00
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