Artist Name: Alexandra Calder Karagianis
Title: My Mask Needs a Mask
Medium: Digital collage
My Mask Needs a Mask reflects on my experiences as an essential worker for the first six months of the pandemic.
During this time carpal tunnel developed in my hands, which I now believe was a somatic reaction or trauma response, since the pain disappeared shortly after I resigned.
Many of my former co-workers are in their fifties or older, and so are at increased risk from the virus if infected. The names on the left of the work lists essential workers who passed away near the beginning of the pandemic. Adding this element became very emotional for me, resurfacing memories from the early spring when I was constantly worried about an outbreak starting in my workplace and was given very little support.
In the top right is a photo of my father, who died last year from a workplace related illness. This greatly impacted me during my redeployment, and informed my decision to resign.
The message of My Mask Needs a Mask is the other, darker side of the emergence and celebration of essential workers. In a biopolitical view of power, essential workers can be placed in hazardous roles as a necessary sacrifice and prop to capitalism, especially in a time of crisis. My example shows there is even a class divide within organizations that are becoming increasingly privatized.