Using basket weaving as a metaphor for weaving around society’s barriers, Kristina has been exploring barriers and gaps encountered by both the collective and individual, during lockdown. Weaving materials have included phone charging cables, hdmi leads, and electric wires, representing the high dependence on virtual and digital communication during periods of isolation. Her examination of the strange dichotomy of wanting connection with others, whilst needing to keep them away in order to stay safe, brought the introduction of electric fencing wire as an additional weaving material. As time went on the overwhelming whir of baskets, disruption, change, never-ending hypervigilance, and heightened anxiety, started to blur the boundaries of normality, causing both the artist and her baskets to unravel.
Aside from the risks of covid, the pressure to re-join society post-lockdown, brought with it a reluctance to relearn social skills, and navigate the discomfort and exhaustion of the outside world. The draw to continue in isolated hibernation, and feel comfortable in a controlled and accessible environment, remained strong. Kristina began to deconstruct baskets, to pull at loose threads, and to become wholly entangled within her own basketwork. Metaphor and reality began to merge.
Whilst looking at the commonality of people’s experiences during lockdown, Kristina was also struck by the difference of the disabled experience. Initially the playing field seemed to level, with everyone suddenly becoming housebound, and unable to work or get about. Alternative ways to communicate were sought, and things that had previously been deemed impossible were suddenly possible after all. However, it soon became clear that the pre-existing inequalities were far from gone, and the gaps only seemed to widen under the pandemic, with poor policies putting disabled people in a vulnerable position.
The government’s use of terminology, framing disabled people as ‘vulnerable’ was dangerous, allowing the wider public to view us as flimsy, disposable, and unavoidable collateral damage. It has made way for the pushing of policies that look at removing the right to peaceful protest, at assisted dying, at the issuing of unwanted DNR notices, and at cuts to Universal Credit; all of which have a disproportionate, negative impact on disabled people. And it has allowed the deaths of sick and disabled people and those in care homes, to be excused, when they died not because of vulnerability in themselves, but because of policies, or lack of them, that put them at risk. And disabled people are still at risk. Freedom Day did not happen for everyone. Many sick and disabled people are still in lockdown. Even now.
60% of those who have died from covid have been disabled people.
And many of us who do not die, are left with worsened conditions and new complications.
But we are not vulnerable people. We are strong people put at risk by poor policies.