The CoronaShock Sketchbook

For CoronaShock: The Virus and the World, we invited artists and militants from around the world to contribute visual reflections made in quarantine to the CoronaShock Sketchbook. Just as we are living the dehumanisation of neoliberalism – characterised by the flexible and fragmented world of work that makes working while quarantined possible – our streets and public spaces have also become dehumanised, largely emptied of their human and economic life. From the exodus of migrants in Delhi to the plight of precarious women workers in Barcelona and Kuala Lumpur, the question emerges: what are essential services and who are the workers who maintain them? From Buenos Aires’s vacated Plaza de Mayo to the township evictions in South Africa, from the banners hung from New York City’s fire escapes to the shouts of São Paulo’s panelaços (pot-banging protests), we wonder: what could the shape of mass resistance could look like under social distancing? The sketches of Cuban medical brigades and the civic collectivity in China remind us of the vital importance of human and state-led solidarity in this conjuncture. This sketchbook provides a snapshot and asks us how we might fill – and humanise – these emptied and haunted public streets and spaces again; it allows us to imagine what future is possible for life after coronavirus.


Vikas Thakur_Migrant Labour

‘Home’, a distant dream for India’s migrant labourers.
Delhi, India
Vikas Thakur / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
In India, migrant labourers traveled across the country en masse after the government declared a lockdown. These are workers who, before the pandemic, already had to struggle daily for even an ounce of food – then COVID-19 hit.


Kalia venereo_nunca mas

Nunca más / Never Again
Havana, Cuba
Kalia Venereo / Dominio Cuba
‘Neoliberal policies that deprive people of the right to health #NeverAgain’. This piece represents the Cuban doctors who set out to overcome the pandemic through solidarity. It was created for the organisation Dominio Cuba in support of the convocation of French organisations and celebrities for a global social media campaign to promote a future without neoliberal policies, which deprive people of the right to health.



Fora Bolsonaro! / Get out, Bolsonaro!
São Paulo, Brazil
Ingrid Neves / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
‘Get out Bolsonaro’, ‘get out Fascist’, and ‘not him’ are among the chants that fill the air during panelaços (protests characterised by the banging of pots and pans) in Brazil under quarantine. Isolation has not stopped voices, pots, and noisemakers from uniting against the government of President Jair Bolsonaro in large urban centres.


Essential Workers_NY_BelenMarco

Who sustains life?
New York City, United States
Belén Marco Crespo / The People’s Forum
The working class has been facing the systemic crisis of capitalism long before the outbreak of Covid-19 and it is the working class, still, who continues to sustain life. Immigrants, informal and low-wage workers, and women in New York bear the burdens of care work in a time when all of humanity needs to prioritize care over profit.


Tings Chak_East is Red

The East is Red.
Shanghai, China
Tings Chak / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
On 4 April at 10am, China held three minutes of silence to commemorate those who fought and died in the international battle against COVID-19 – it was the Qingming, the festival for ancestors. The country stopped and the sounds of sirens, car and ship horns, and the belltower playing ‘The East is Red’ filled the air.



Quien sostiene la vida / Those who sustain life.
Madrid, Spain
Henar Diez Villahoz
The stock exchange is empty, the stock market has plummeted. Solidarity networks are being organized in neighborhoods as well as a call to defend public health, which has been collapsed by budget cuts. At the forefront of this struggle are precarised workers, who continue to go to work in sectors such as distribution, food provision, and cleaning in order to sustain life.


Dani_Plaza de mayo_ver1

Madres de la Plaza, el pueblo aún las abraza | Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the people still embrace you.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Daniela Ruggeri / Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research
The Plaza de Mayo is empty on this 24 March, the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice. For the first time in the history of this march, we could not take to the streets in support of our comrades who were disappeared during the dictatorship that began in 1976. On social media and on our balconies, we hung white handkerchiefs for our Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.



Evict (v.): To forcefully remove people from a property with the support of the law.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Kate Janse Van Rensburg / Socialist Revolutionary Workers Party
Despite a moratorium on evictions during South Africa’s Covid-19 national lockdown, the state continues to displace people, deploying private security, the military, and the police. Since the end of Apartheid in1994, the militarised state’s response to the people’s struggle for shelter has remained intact: apartheid continues.

Ezrena Marwan, Labour (2020)

Objects and labour
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Ezrena Marwan / Malaysia Design Archive
A scene of a private hospital in Klang Valley, Malaysia, at the heart of Covid-19 pandemic. As a preventive measure, Malaysia is under the Movement Control Order (MCO), which saw spaces shut down and emptied out, except for frontline workers: healthcare, janitorial, and food delivery workers – among others.