A Lafayette artist invites you to join a Zoom call quite unlike anything you’ve experienced before.
It’s actually not a live online meeting. It is an interactive art exhibit that presents personal pandemic stories through the familiar platform of an online meeting space.
The exhibit, Zoomface2020, features artistic images of meeting attendees not unlike those you might see on a real Zoom call – with the choppy displays and blurry backgrounds that come with technology. Behind each face is an audio recording of a personal story about the pandemic, complete with the microphone interference and background barking familiar to anyone who has relied on online meeting spaces during the pandemic. A participant square is black with the word “Connecting…” These three dots appear and disappear forever on the website, never connecting to the last person. The end meeting button redirects you to the portfolio of Lafayette artist Peter Klubek.
“When you interact with the faces, you’ll notice that no two experiences are the same,” Klubek said. “Yet you also see that we all went through this together.”
Klubek, 44, was inspired to create Zoomface2020 a few months into the pandemic.
Her art has long explored communication and information through the lens of everyday faces, and the sudden increase in video calls and meetings during the pandemic has offered Klubek a new perspective for her work.
“I’ve been painting pictures of people’s faces for a while — not necessarily portraits, but pictures of selfies or book covers, things like that,” Klubek said. “I’ve always played with faces as concept art. The pandemic and the Zoom experience gave me another source to look at faces and experience faces.”
Each participant, whose real names were not used in the project, was asked the same three questions:
- How did you first hear about the COVID-19 pandemic?
- When did the COVID-19 pandemic become real for you?
- How has your life changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Many participants said they heard about the pandemic through social media or media coverage and realized its importance once their workplace or school closed in mid-March.
The last question is where the answers vary the most.
“It really made me miss a lot of people,” said one woman. “I was like, ‘Oh, I can always go home’ or ‘I’m going to visit the house. I’m going to visit these people. Oh, they’ll be there.’ But throughout this year I’ve lost a lot of people, just knowing that things can get worse so quickly has really affected me, which has made me appreciate people more and get to know them better. and how in a short time you can actually try to connect and try harder to maintain relationships with people because we really take the relationships we have for granted, especially the close ones. .
“It’s really affected the way I trust people, even close friends,” one man said. “There’s such a diversity of how people have reacted to it in what I feel are safe ways. I think the biggest way it’s affected me is it’s really just degraded my confidence. general I have in my friends and family and just generally strangers.”
Klubek originally pitched the idea for a 2021 ArtSpark grant through the Acadiana Center for the Arts and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority. Although his project was not selected under this program, Klubek later that year received a $900 Artist Relief Grant which he used for the project.
Klubek is an Illinois native who moved to Baton Rouge in 2011 to work as a community college librarian. In 2020, he moved to Lafayette after accepting a position as a librarian at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
His art has been exhibited around the world and he has pieces in the permanent collections of UL’s Hilliard Art Museum and the Brooklyn Art Library in New York.
Zoomface2020 was launched in December 2021 and will run until December this year.
“People have responded very positively,” Klubek said. “A lot of people need time to talk after the things they’ve been through, and that’s a way to unite people.”
Discover the exhibition on zoomface2020.com.