COVID, the Teacher (a Series)

Photo: Ryan Lahiff -Untapped Cities

I recently watched a video recorded by a driver touring the elegant district in mid-Manhattan around Fifth and Madison Avenues. For six minutes he was showing the boarded-up landmark shops of Gucci, Versace, Breitling and the likes. I had never realized how many high-end shops there were there. Some may have been boarded up because of broken windows as a result of the riots, others as a precautionary decision to avoid being vandalized and robbed. But independent of the reasons, the view of this line of boarded-up shops was something striking for me because they are icons of a culture. Boarded-up, they reminded me of an installation made by  Christo, who wrapped up buildings and iconic places, making us see them in a new way – as if seeing them in their absence.

Reichstag Verhüllung von Christo 1995 (Foto: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Gertrud K.)

What would Madison Avenue be like without those stores? How would Manhattan, how would the world, how would we be without those stores? I am not referring to the beautiful objects they offer, nor to the industries that produce the objects, nor to the employment they provide. I am thinking of the stores as icons of a culture of want, a culture that offers us ways to define who we are. But – is that all we are?

The question comes very timely for me, because as I am concerned with the sustainability of our way of life – endless wants on a finite planet, I know that we have to urgently and radically change the way we do almost everything.  That is impossible!

Impossible…? Now COVID is showing us that it is possible – not in the form we would have chosen – but nevertheless.

Every day I am discovering some new things that COVID is teaching me. What insights and discoveries are you making?

1 Comment

  1. SUSi on August 3, 2020 at 20:56

    covid learnt us patience, more understanding others, realize that we really don´t need a lot of stuff, we got time to learn and read and communicate in different ways…
    I think that every situation happens so that we can learn something from it
    we shouldn´t waist this opportunity