Coronavirus in the world of art and culture: How does a woman have time for all this?
To Bring Back the Time
Centre for Women’s Studies (Belgrade) and Association for Culture and Art CRVENA (Sarajevo) teamed up last year for a joint research regarding the situations and problems that young women in the region encountered during the lockdown and the pandemic. Not only did these organizations succeed in raising awareness about different ways it affected the quality and quantity of unpaid housework performed by women, but they also showed it through art – in the form of a specific comic series.
Danica Jevđović, the comic series illustrator, states that all women that appeared throughout it are brought beyond the limits of exhaustion, without the possibility to rest and take time for themselves. Based on the reaction and positive criticism, her conclusion is that many find themselves in a similar position, and therefore, these heroines are not just fictional characters – they are much more than that.
– Among the protagonists are a student, a young woman, a single mother, a waitress, and a cashier. They represent each one of us. I found myself in at least two stories, and the good response of the audience tells me that many women found themselves in some others – says the illustrator.
The project deals primarily with women's stories from a woman's perspective. The stories that were turned into comics are based on the true testimonies of a large number of respondents who participated in the research phase of the project. It is interesting that the problems they go through are similar and sometimes even the same, regardless of their social, geographical, and financial positions, explains Jevđović.
Other than the illustrator, the project also gathered some other women – writer Lejla Kalamujić and Lara Končar, and Hristina Cvetinčanin Knežević, who were the project coordinators. The target group focused on the generation of millennials and youngsters who are just getting on their feet and whose lives were already difficult enough even without the pandemic.
– The heroine of the first episode is a student who is expected to follow classes online, but she is also expected to help her brother with his homework, prepare lunch, clean and disinfect everything her father brings from the store, which leaves her very little free time. We also have an example of a single mother who should work from home and raise a three-year-old girl. Kindergartens do not work, flexible working hours mean that you always work and the girl's father does not have time to help them. With all being said, the main question arises: How does a woman have time for all this? – concludes Jevđović.
Just like these women and pretty much everyone else, artists also found themselves in a changed environment during the pandemic. One of the coping mechanisms for them was emphasizing a different approach to their artistic practice, and this comic series did just that – not only did it succeed in spreading the message, but it also showed how an important topic can be presented in a creative way.
This project was implemented with the support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the USA – BTD. The comic series can be viewed on the website of the Center for Women's Studies from Belgrade.