David Smith in the US reports for us on a new artwork memorialising those who have died during the global pandemic from artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer:

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer caught the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. The media artist became infected in March last year during a visit to New York, then unwittingly took the deadly virus back home to Canada.

“As far as I know, I am Patient Zero,” he says by phone from Toronto. “I may have been the one that caused Canada to catch it because I was very early.”

Lozano-Hemmer has an asthma condition “so it did get hairy for about five weeks”, he says, but he was able to avoid hospital with the help of steroids. However, two of his friends, in Mexico and Spain, died from the virus. “It’s been quite a time of loss and a time of mourning.”

The 53-year-old has turned mourning into art with a work that opens at the Brooklyn Museum in New York on Friday. A Crack in the Hourglass is an ephemeral, ever-evolving Covid-19 memorial that confronts the question of how to commemorate a tragedy that has killed 5 million people with no end in sight.

This is how it works. Members of the public anywhere in the world can submit photos of loved ones lost to Covid-19 at acrackinthehourglass.net along with a personalised dedication. They can then watch via live stream or at the gallery as a modified robotic plotter deposits grains of hourglass sand on to a black stage to recreate the person’s image.

Once the portrait is finished, it is slowly erased by gravity. The entire process – which takes about 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the complexity of the picture – is archived on the website, then the same sand is recycled into the next portrait, forming an endless collection of online memorials.

Read more here: ‘It’s a closure’: the artist making an endless, erasing Covid-19 memorial


Hong Kong doubles down on Covid restrictions to appease China

It used to be an international business centre, the bustling, vibrant commercial gateway to China and the rest of Asia.

But after weeks of lobbying by Hong Kong’s global business community for the government to ease border restrictions and harsh mandatory quarantine to bring it into line with other trading hubs, the authorities have instead responded with even tougher measures.

At her regular press conference on Tuesday, Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, announced most exemptions from the city’s mandatory and self-funded quarantine periods of up to 21 days will soon be cancelled. The government followed it up on Wednesday by announcing that Covid patients would have to spend a further two weeks in hospital after they had recovered.

Hong Kong has reported just one local case since mid-August and, eager to have China reopen its borders to the city, Lam has made it clear she has prioritised Beijing’s demand for zero Covid over restarting international travel and “living with the virus”.

The changes push Hong Kong further into a life dictated by China’s strategy as the rest of the world is opening up, which according to business and expatriate groups is driving people out of the city. It adds to already record levels of population loss as Hongkongerss fled the national security crackdown.

Read the full story here.



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