BENGALURU: It wasn’t long before Sapna Dube, like many others in lockdown, too started yearning for the company of familiar faces. This then prompted the city-based artist to conceptualise ‘Letter’ – a project that calls for letters by people, illustrating what life in lockdown and during this pandemic has been like for them. The submissions will then be turned into a virtual interactive public art project and possibly into a book as well.
“They could write about anything from how this time affected them to realisations they are having. It could be a cathartic experience and who knows, it might also resonate with others,” says Dube, who has been a resident of Bengaluru all her life. She also plans to reach out to COVID-19 survivors as well, to ask them to pen their journey in the form of letters. Details about the project are available on her blog.
As someone who grew up in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Dube recalls the transition from writing letters to electronic means quite clearly. The long wait between replies was also a part of the sweetness of those simpler times she’s trying to get back through this project. “Everything used to be slow back then. A rat race only makes us lose out on the essence of life – to spend time with people we love,” she says, as she explains the idea behind her project.
“The lockdown has only reinforced the belief that simple is nice. We may not remember a message received via WhatsApp or email but a letter is a good way to connect and reconnect with people,” she adds. This, however, is not her first time using this theme. In 2018, Dube created a similar interactive art installation at Cubbon Metro Station, as part of the grant she received by Art in Transit, in association with Namma Metro and India Post.
The new project was launched a few days into the lockdown and has already seen 55 submissions. While the bulk of them are from Bengaluru, entries have also come in from Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, China, UK and USA. While content may vary, hope has emerged to be a common theme among all. “Older people write about how they are scared to lose their lives, younger ones write about how limited they feel with the way things are,” says Dube.
As an artist, she may be used to a solitary way of life but these submissions have brought with them a new level of satisfaction for her. “Everyone is trying to stay positive. If anything, at least I know that we are all in the same boat,” adds Dube, who will start posting the letters online by the end of this month.