Art in Quarantine — Carolina Pimenta
UMBIGO invited several artists to reflect on the era we are living in and to think about their artistic production in quarantine times.
Project by the artist Carolina Pimenta.
Carolina Pimenta, tactile afferents, The importance of touch, 2020
Touch is central to our experience of the world, it helps define us. We sense with our bodies the objects we encounter—the couch cradling us, the table colliding with our knees, the breeze fluttering at our cheeks. Touch orients us to the world; it attunes us to one another. Even before birth, researchers believe touch is critical to fetal development, they say it is the first sense humans develop in the womb, possessed even in tiny embryos. During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of my immediate concerns was how this would change our human interaction. As our social world becomes increasingly visual and digital, it is easy to forget the power of touch in human relations. Yet a gentle stroking by a stranger can reduce our feelings of social exclusion, increase our serotonin levels and even lead us towards a cure for loneliness. During my confinement, I lost the desire to photograph and was absorbed with archiving my work. During this process I was drawn to how many images were depicting touch; hugs so tight that fingers are imprinted on skin, we are destined to cuddle and stroke each other, threading wellbeing into the fabric of our body and soul. We love it so much that the word has the power to sell a heap of products from soft-touch pillows to velvet touch tights, expert touch saucepans and even smooth, perfecting touch face creams. However touching in an age of pervasive sexual abuse and harassment, further augmented by a global pandemic, closeness no longer feels safe. There is a hypervigilance of boundaries that makes it hard to find the right approach. Fundamentally, touch tells us who we are.