Love in the time of chikungunya

dave carswell

2019 - Ongoing

Love in the time of chickungunya started as an evolution on my exploration of public space and the way in which these areas are used, manipulated and rooted to changes in human behaviour. The setting of the work is in Natural World, a small amusement and green park in central Yangon. The location of the space toggles between private and public domain - the name remains a paradox - a constructed space for the public.

I was initially drawn to the use of the space for young courting couples to enact out performative love rituals. In lieu of the restrictions of privacy at home, the park is a popular location for escapism from prying family with constructed areas such as ‘Lover’s Lane’ and the deliberate positioning of couples chairs and privacy areas away from the main courses of the park.

A duality exists where the park’s main function serves as a setting for multi-generational relatives to enjoy leisure time together. Family picnics, siblings riding roller-coasters together and grandparents overlooking bathing infants contributes to a jovial and welcoming atmosphere.

If you scratch beneath the surface however, there is an undercurrent of tension and loneliness that threatens to rise to the surface. A lonely balloon seller, a dying plant or deflated show ride. These visual cues allude to a foreboding warning and can be seen as a metaphor for the forced and contrived nature of the built environment.

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