Illustration: Grace De Kroon
Words, Photography, Design: Gabriella Achadinha

Covid-19. Quarantine.
The year of 2020 has been nothing short of testing.

As we still face one of the worst pandemics in decades, as a global community we find ourselves questioning public safety, flailing health systems, collective entitlement (looking at you, anti-mask protestors) and most of all, the individual mental experience of being quarantined. Confined to a singular space, overwhelmed by mutual anxieties, how has this experience unified some and separated others? How do these singular narratives form discernible ubiquitous themes? What frustrations are felt at a local level of governance?

Four womxn were interviewed for this collaboration and shared their personal viewpoints and circumstances, photographed in their current spaces of quarantine. Talking to each of them was a somewhat therapeutic process, enabling one to recognise that although we may all be isolated, we are certainly not alienated in our conscious space and are very much dealing through these fears together, despite the distance.

I stumbled upon Grace de Kroon’s illustration via Instagram, a social media addiction often turning toxic in these trying times of misinformation, and welcomed such a colorful, fantastical distraction. Her work retains an innocence that is both comforting and energising, the seemingly mundane transformed into individually personified idyllic motifs. Working on the idea of merging her illustration with my photography / design, and drawing influence from current situation, we decided to create In Limbo: With These Times. An examination of Introspection across various cities from various womxn, via the creation of a vibrant canvas both conflicting yet engaging with the mental space of these times.

JAMILA FABA
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Gabriella Achadinha: What is the feeling / energy towards the pandemic in your city / country?
Jamila Faba:
The energy towards the pandemic is very negative. Even though majority of our friends and family are secure in their home and are able to provide for themselves or for each other, a large percentage of South Africans who lived paycheque to paycheque are in great distress right now. Not only were they insanely under-paid, most of them were retrenched because of the pandemic. 80% of South Africans are really suffering because of what’s happening then we have the privileged fighting for jogging rights.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has been a particular salvation during these times / what has been a particular strain during these times?
Jamila Faba: My mother and my one year old baby sister are the only family I have, but because of the pandemic and my fear of being around my baby sister during these times I haven’t seen my family in two months. It’s been such a strain not being able to see them for this long. It makes the experience a bit more lonelier.

Gabriella Achadinha: What have you personally learnt / been enlightened to during the pandemic (social or political context)?
Jamila Faba: The pandemic made me see exactly how wide the gap between rich and poor is.What has this pandemic made you realise about yourself? It made me realize that I’m way more homebodied than I think I am, and that I actually enjoy my own company, that’s when I’m most comfortable and free.

MICHELLE MADDEN
TOKYO, JAPAN

Gabriella Achadinha: What is the feeling / energy towards the pandemic in your city / country?
Michelle Madden:
Tokyo had been completely focused on hosting the Olympics and once the news of the pandemic broke out, it seemed that people were in denial. It took a while for the government to take the threat seriously. It was only once the Olympics had been postponed, that I saw measures being put into place to protect people. I think it lifted the veil on capitalism in terms of risking people’s lives to keep the economy going.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has been a particular salvation during these times / what has been a particular strain during these times?
Michelle Madden:In a city where a high number of people live in apartments, I’m very fortunate to live in a house with a garden. My salvation is being able to go into my garden. Being close to nature helps me put things into perspective. It also helps me put aside the overwhelming information being presented in the news everyday.

Gabriella Achadinha: What have you personally learnt / been enlightened to during the pandemic (social or political context)?
Michelle Madden: The pandemic has shone a light on the fragility of human existence and breaks the illusion of invincibility.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has this pandemic made you realise about yourself?
Michelle Madden: I’ve been okay with being alone and quite enjoy my own company.

LIZA SCHOLTZ
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

Gabriella Achadinha: What is the feeling / energy towards the pandemic in your city / country?
Liza Scholtz: South Africa is so divided by class that there is not one overarching feeling. Many people are stressed about money as businesses are closed. Some are using it as a time out. Some are using it to reflect,deepen relationships and create.Some are tryna create side hussles and re-invent themselves. Some are all of the above. I am concerned about the future for my country economically. I am hoping that it is true that when we got that tb shot as babies, it made us kind of immune to aunty Rona.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has been a particular salvation during these times / what has been a particular strain during these times?
Liza Scholtz: A salvation has been meditation, napping, cooking. A strain has been worrying about my family, and overthinking situations.

Gabriella Achadinha: What have you personally learnt / been enlightened to during the pandemic (social or political context)?
Liza Scholtz: I have seen that the system really has people wasting time and petrol in traffic for hours each day when so many jobs really could work from home, same goes for alter-abled bodies, they could be considered for those jobs all along.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has this pandemic made you realise about yourself?
Liza Scholtz: I have been learning that the more I cultivate my solitude, the less I look for external acceptance. Because within your solitude alot comes up if you let it, feelings of unworthiness, old wounds and then to consciously and gentley interiagate it, and once you sit for long enough you will feel your own love, as it has always been there for you. Feeling like I don’t have to count on anyone else to make me feel better or lift my mood, anyone but myself, Is very empowering. This is what solitude is teaching me.

NIA JIANG
BERLIN, GERMANY

Gabriella Achadinha: What is the feeling / energy towards the pandemic in your city / country?
Nia Jiang: Actually like living in a parallel world, mentally I keep receiving anxiety from my family side in China, but physically when I go outside into the world, the city I’ve settled down into, everything is normal but with a specific quietness. People could still have fun outside but paying mind to personal distance and mask protection.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has been a particular salvation during these times / what has been a particular strain during these times?
Nia Jian: I moved to Munich just when the Ausgangsperre took place during the middle of March. So at this time nobody knows what is going to happen in Germany or Europe, like in China strictly lockdown or still more or less people can keep their normal daily life? Especially as a newcomer to a new city, without a lot of friends and even with the few friends everyone is quarantined, quite harsh to get used to my new place.

Gabriella Achadinha: What have you personally learnt / been enlightened to during the pandemic (social or political context)?
Nia Jian: During this pandemic time, the virus is not only getting on our nerves but also testing the trust between every citizen of the Earth. We could see different reaction from humanity side, some people hoarded medical supplies like masks and disinfectant at the beginning, but others followed the suggestions from government, who chose to save such goods for medical persons at the front line. People become more sensitive with every meeting, even some of friends check my recently social activities before meetup. Physical social distances transfer its meaning further than we thought before and even built a gap between each individual. But on the other side, of course we could still see a lot beautiful things happen during this special time period, like different civil groups donate stuffs to support who really need material support.

Gabriella Achadinha: What has this pandemic made you realise about yourself?
Nia Jian: Personally,although this pandemic has lots of negative impacts both on society level and personal life, but also give me a chance to connect closer bonding with my inner side. Finally, I am free from the social pressure, have time for reading and drawing, which I didn’t get time to do long time ago. It’s a precious timepoint for diving deeper inside the ocean of myself.