Q: How has the crisis affected your everyday life?
A: Very early on in my life, in order to find the gumption to leave the house, I’ve had to say, “I might get got today so let’s get it back.” Absurd or reckless death is a given for a Flint kid, even before they (the government & Nestle corporate interest) poisoned our water. I feel in my element, like I no longer have to tone down or pass for someone who doesn’t fully understand the impermanence & importance of every move we make. Furiosa who takes more conference calls & doesn’t have contact with students, whose safety was just as compromised by someone stepping on the elevator before all this as it is now.
Q: How has the crisis affected your practice?
A: I was doing great for about a week & then took on a load of lesson plans & remote work. For that week having labor-equals-worth guilt off the table was a tremendous help. It used to be every time I sat down to really hone my craft or explore my internal artistic connections I would make myself sick thinking how taking time away from earning a paycheck means I’m that much closer to living in my car again. That isn’t to say that my personal craft has nothing to do with community, I feel like it’s my responsibility as an artist to help people make space for themselves to create. It’s just that before the first week of April 2020, I had never EVER felt myself make space for myself to create. Pandemic made it so that I had no choice but to live in my own space taking care of my own mind first.
Q: How has the crisis affected you economically?
A: I’ve always been in poor & in crisis so like if you need tips please @ me, but only on FB bc I don’t have other social media.
Q: What is the role of culture in a time of crisis?
A: I want to emphasize that when I say ‘crisis’ I mean it as lifelong phenomena that I have observed & experienced: Flint has not had clean water since 2014, tens of thousands of households in Detroit lost access to water in 2014 & many still do not have access even in a pandemic, my students have empty lots for legal addresses, do not have regular access to food, come to school fearing gun violence & some still feel safer at school than at home, people my age in Detroit grew up in a food desert, I personally have never had an apartment in Detroit that wasn’t operated by a shady property business or an outright slumlord, in Detroit the idea of generational wealth is a joke, not protection. In this beautiful Black city, medical negligence, racist policing, state/city sponsored economic terrorism all kill residents for being Black or Brown. & then we have a pandemic. On average, “pandemic” might be fourth or fifth on the list of things that will try to kill you on any given pandemic day. I have lived through & been witness to enough physical, political, & cultural violence to tell you that there has always been a crisis, & it has always been the role of the artist to wake up every morning & say, “I hope I can make a world where no one has to die today.”
Name: Catharine Batsios
Occupation: Teaching Artist, Misc.