This Virtual Neighborhood Hosts a Growing Collection of Video Postcards from Artists in Isolation
At the start of the pandemic, Itamar Kubovy, a former executive creative producer of Pilobolus, and his friends found themselves checking in with each other via Zoom as a way to connect and cope with life under lockdown. “It made us curious about what all these other folks that we have worked with or known or admired are doing all over the world,” he says. “Especially in the dance world, it feels like there were so many people in these boxes trying to remember what it felt like to move—and insisting on it.”
Kubovy, together with co-creators and co-producers Stefanie Sobelle, Juan Diaz Bohorquez, Joe Szuecs and Sherry Huss, made connections with 100 artists—choreographers, dancers, filmmakers, writers, musicians and more—and posed a simple request: Submit a video postcard, roughly one-minute in length, responding to the year’s events.
Though the participants are based across five continents their videos “live” together on one fictional, virtual street: Decameron Row. Every week, a new set of videos is revealed, each indicated by a lit-up window within an illustrated city block. So far, contributors include novelist Nicole Krauss, pop rock band OK Go and choreographer Ohad Naharin, to name a few.
Though it’s a 21st-century way to bring far-flung artists together, the concept of storytelling during quarantine is quite old. Decameron Row is inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, a group of 14th-century novellas containing 100 tales as told by 10 people who were quarantining outside of Florence during the Black Death.
Courtesy Decameron Row
Don’t expect the artists’ offerings to stick strictly within their discipline. Some—like Mike Tyus, who dances a duet with a metal railing—do. And others—like Naharin, who repeatedly chants “a day and one more day, a day and one more day…”—don’t.
Each window is a surprise, and mousing around to see what’s inside each apartment is half the fun. In Decameron Row, Annie-B Parson and her longtime collaborator, visual artist Joanne Howard, live one floor above Pilobolus’ Renee Jaworski and Matt Kent. Three doors down is Nile Russell, whose one-minute clip weaves a tale of a summertime snooze that leads to a dream dance scene. Later in the summer, artists like Camille A. Brown and Andrea Miller are also moving in.