No matter where you were, or what you were doing during 2020, no doubt that year will forever stand out like a bright red X marked on the timeline of your life. When I look back on it, the whole year seems oddly squished and compressed, but also at the same time s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d out endlessly. It's as if the entire year was an eternity that all happened in just those few weeks from March to May, while the rest of the year didn't exist at all, swallowed up by the hugeness that was lockdown. Things haven't been quite the same since. Once again, we had to adjust to a new normal.
And then we got Lockdown 2.0.
Lockdown: the sequel.
We've been here before; we got through it together, our Team of Five Million, and we can do it again.
So maybe this is the perfect time to look back on that other lockdown. And Lockdown: Tales from Aotearoa is a great way to do just that.
For some of us, those weeks were a chance to take stock, to recharge, to reconnect. For others it was a time of loss, upheaval, or sadness. All of that and more is explored through the micro-stories and artworks of the nineteen comic and graphic artists who contributed their work, compiled by the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū. The experience of the Team of Five Million is captured beautifully through the eclectic mix of writing and art styles. Whatever you went through during Lockdown, you are bound to find a story that resonates with you in this book.
Of course the stories are all unique, but there are common threads: bears in windows, empty supermarket shelves, and masks a-plenty. There are stories of Netflix binges (was Tiger King your thing?) and awkward Zoom meetings (shirt, tie, and... undies). You should definitely check out Sharon Murdoch's fluoro-vest-wearing, soulful-eyed Easter Bunny and Li Chen's tale of texting pets dealing with owners suddenly staying home all day. Ant Sang wished lockdown would never end. Sarah Lund's vignette of togetherness mingled with loneliness is accompanied by delicious, tiny, cut-paper collages. Toby Morris shares a peek through the windows of different houses, showing us how different lockdown was for different bubbles.
Each perspective is distinct. There's the familiar, the beautiful, the thought-provoking, and the strangely sureal—just like lockdown, really.