Conversations surrounding millennial burnout have been in vogue
for some time, and they’ve even expanded from more traditional definitions of the term – namely, that it should occur within the parameters of employment or school, and that it’s in pursuit of institutional accolades – towards an exhaustion with the very state of our world at large. We are going to work, feeling it drain our physical and emotional capacities, and still feeling morally bereft when the day is done. So we email politicians and read articles on the weekends, before it all begins anew on Monday.
Now that much of our activity has come to a standstill, the more privileged of us aren’t being buffeted from one task to the next. Yet it is hardly a welcome reprieve, when one’s free time feels so directly tethered to another risking their survival. In a conversation with a friend some weeks ago, we expressed one of our deepest insecurities: what if our parents were right, and we should have just become doctors instead?
The creative process, then, is radical in that it seeks to resist this very idea, that there is a way to offer something to a world that seems on the verge of collapse from any number of crises. Imaginations of the anthropocene – an era defined by humanity’s impact on the environment – have risen to prominence in arts scenes across mediums and forms. One of the most popular, Grimes’ explosive album Miss Anthropocene
, released in February 2020, diverges stylistically and emotionally from another, the duo Funeral Lakes’ self-titled meditative record
from December 2019 on natural disaster in Vancouver. Yet they emerge from a similar space: of sitting with a world in crisis and attempting to make something of it.
Faced with the current threat of a pandemic, artists continue to keep at this endeavour. Marion Wilson, a visual artist based in New York who has been diagnosed with the COVID-19 disease, told Hyperallergic
that in her restricted circumstances, her imagination nevertheless “kept expanding”. “Unable to travel to my studio, I [began] to look around my house for supplies. First, there are all those herbs that I am taking for my immune system, then there are the spices, the teas – and suddenly my bed is my studio table.”
The Tiger Moth Review, which curates and edits submissions from around the world, has its gaze similarly fixed on what can be done with what we have, as dire as the circumstances may seem. To this end, Esther told me that the submissions she receives tend to be a healthy mix of both optimism and pessimism. “People are still hopeful,” she reflected, “They still remember and want to believe in a more beautiful, bountiful version of the natural world.” The collective vision of editing and publishing submissions, ranging from
odes to trees in Singapore and Australia to the U.S. 45 highway, as well as the co-existence of mediums like photography and poetry, seems to intervene on, and subsequently reject, the idea of the creative process as being solitary or disconnected from real life, even when one creates on their own.