The Decameron

The Decameron is an ongoing series of multimedia, monochromatic drawings and mixed-media works on paper inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s book The Decameron. I used this series as a starting point to investigate the parallels between the bubonic plague quarantines of 14th century Europe and my own experiences throughout the Covid-19 lock-downs over the past three years. Rather than treating the series as directly referenced illustrations of the stories told within the Decameron, I chose to create a body of work that consists of my observed experiences within the familiar, personal and banal juxtaposed against imagined scenarios and unreliable memories of experiences that may or may not have happened.

In reading the tales included in the Decameron, I was struck by its avoidance of the primary catalyst: the forced containment that the bubonic plague quarantines necessitated. Instead, the novellas focus on stories that range from the moralistic to the sordid to the tragic — all of which are dependent on social interaction rather than on isolation. As a visual artist I quickly realized that my urge was not to reflect the abject and isolated realities of quarantine but rather to subvert and escape the violent and sudden removal from most forms of social interaction while becoming hyper-focused on others. 

Mid-process, I am fascinated by the juxtaposition of real, imagined, remembered and seemingly unrelated experiences and images and placing them within a non-linear, inconsistent, and unreliable context — one where intense, long-duration focus on one-on-one human interaction and magnified self-reflection runs parallel to the experiences of cultural, social, and physical alienation, creating an environment where the roles of protagonist, antagonist, narrator and neutral observer are deliberately obscured.