Who Are We
The stories we tell are important – after all, social change can occur when as little as twenty-five per cent of the population adopt the position. Starting with evidence-based narratives, artists and scientists are able to blend knowledge and skills sets in facilitated sessions in order to curate compelling, immersive exhibitions able to cultivate empathy, promote transformational learning and bring about positive social action.
It started with a vision and a virus
The vision of Relational Space gallery is to to create new knowledge, curate immersive installations and build a more just and sustainable world, inspired by art and transformed through truth.
An open call yielded an incredible lineup of accomplished artists and scientists. During February and March of 2021 these twelve talented individuals met in three, 90-minute, facilitated virtual sessions. A third of the participants have been struggling with Long COVID and one participant has endured ME/CFS for 14 years.
The creativity and vision of the participants was evident from the beginning. The project was undertaken with compassionate focus, agile thinking and a enduring spirit of activism. The 3 sessions were dynamic and collaborative, yielding deft insights and innovative design. The diversity within the group was approached enthusiastically. It enhanced the synergetic co-creation and cultivated a virtual, immersive and co-curated exhibition – Long COVID: We Are Here! Elements provided by each participant were blended to create the final production, made virtual by the expertise of Sam Baumel.
“I had COVID in March of 2020 and I continued to have symptoms from that infection. During the initial acute infection after the fever broke I was so happy to be alive. I wasn’t really concerned about the lingering symptoms. I thought it was just a little post viral thing, it would pass. And at the time they were talking about this just being a two-week illness. And so these symptoms went on and on, and on for months, and months, and months. And it took me awhile before I realized that something bigger was going on. Something more serious was happening. And I was really shocked when the symptoms started getting really strange, really bizarre some of the neurological symptoms. And I was really shocked by how many other people were experiencing this as well. And by how little support and information the medical community had about what was going on.”
I developed COVID in March of 2020 and it was very nearly fatal. In week two my body crashed with a cytokine storm and subsequently, I developed bilateral pneumonia. At that time, even in the emergency room, there were no tests so my diagnosis is even now often brought into question. After the active stage of COVID I developed strange unpredictable symptoms, which I now know as long COVID and I have have long COVID for more than a year. My problems include dysautonomia, neuropathy, POTS, insomnia, mast cell activation and overall autonomic dysfunction. By my way of seeing, I never recovered from COVID. This is still the sickness a year later.
“My connection to Long COVID is because I live with a post-viral condition that mirrors the symptoms of long COVID. I contracted a virus 13 years ago and I never recovered. After 2 years of illness I was finally diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis or M.E., a condition for which there is no treatment and no real medical management or follow up. I spent the most part of four years in bed. On some days it was very difficult even to walk to my toilet and there was no help from the medical profession.”
“People often ask why are you better? And I say that I’m better but not well, that’s usually how I respond. I think some of the most challenging parts of being sick are just no longer knowing this body that I’m in. Often say that when you have COVID for a long time your corporeal compasses skew. You no longer really know how to read what’s happening or how long it might last or what my remedy it.”
Sam Baumel – Creative Producer, NYC
Ali Pattilo – Science Journalist
Kodandi Nithyananda, Multi-media and New Media Artist, California
Jeffrey N. Siegelman, MD – Asso. Professor of Emergency Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine.
Leigh W. Jerome, Ph.D. – Artist, Clinical Psychologist and Founder, Relational Space
Helen Collen – Fine Art Photographer & Visual Artist, NYC
Pato Hebert, MFA – Artist, Chair of Art & Public Policy Dept, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU
Shona Patterson, Ph.D. – Director, Center for Global Lives, Brunel University
Bettina von Stamm, MBA, Ph.D. – Founding Director, Innovation Leadership Forum
Dominik Havsteen-Franklin, Ph.D. – Professor of Arts Therapies, Brunel University
Alexandra Juhasz, Ph.D. is Distinguished Professor of Film, Brooklyn College, CUNY
Heather Raikes, Ph.D. – Founding Director, Neopoetics
Karta Thomas – Ceramicist, London, UK