MARCH 28, 2020

March 28, Melbourne Airport
Bye Beth, thank you so much, I’ll call you when I am through
The best hug
I wonder when will be the next one
in this curse of social distancing

I have the leather briefcase with me
all of them are in
We received the Exodus from our ancestors
here is a new theme for The Work
The Journey of the Neutral Masks in the pandemic

I look for the departures
Melbourne-Doha
that’s my flight, that’s the only flight
The airport is empty, the check in is packed
Social distancing is a joke announced through the speakers
Where are the masks? Who wears the mask? Why they don’t wear the mask?

Social distancing looks like the exercise of the bubble
dramatic projection treated with paranoia

There is a problem sir, your booking is not confirmed
the system doesn’t recognize it
Wait, phone calls, consulting, overbooking, heartbeats
someone did not show up
I did
Here is your boarding card sir, Doha and then Rome
Are you sure the flight to Rome is confirmed?
As far as we are concerned yes
As far as I am concerned, I am concerned

Bye Beth, I am in, thank you so very much
From what’s app to who’s in
the huge empty terminal

Why the ground staff wears no masks?

This face mask ordeal
the feeling is familiar
I relax imagining it is a Neutral Mask with a Red Nose on.

My nose is scratchy, oh shit I touched my nose, where is the hand sanitizer?
oh no I left it in the tray at the security
call the security
oh no I touched the phone!
oh no I am breathing on the phone!
They found it
will I owe my life to a security person?
Am I totally paranoid or this is a risky trip?

The deserted airport
people sitting in empty gates to keep distance
A kind voice announces the flight
people are now cramming in the boarding area
primates eager to escape
social distancing is a sweet memory
this is a virus greenhouse
what was I thinking in daring this travel?

We board
the huge plane is packed
mostly Europeans flying home
my neighbors on the planes look healthy, are they? Am I?

Fourteen hours with the mask inside a flying aluminum can
with three hundred and fifty human beings in uncertain health conditions
fourteen
that’s a veeeery long show
I have practiced at home for half an hour but this is another story

Then I think about the doctors and nurses with blisters on their faces
sharing massages crying on their phone after their shift
please stay at home
they plea
Ok, I can make it, this is nothing

Dinner time
I need to wash my hands, is the toilette clean?
Touch don’t touch what to touch how to touch
Sanitize sanitize sanitize
Shall I eat with the mask on?
Of course not, you idiot

I am sure the droplets don’t like the wind
It is written in all medical books
I put the air stream on, dinner in the wind
I’ll catch a cold but not the Corona
Food, a shift in my brain waves
eating feels so good
Chardonnay never tasted better
will the pandemic make me an alcoholic?

Fourteen hours
14
seven of them watching Richard Attenborough seven episodes
Seven worlds one planet
Beauty after beauty after beauty
We are the only species worried about the virus
all other living beings are thriving
There are dolphins in the harbors
boars in the streets
ducks on the airport runs
wild goats in the squares
penguins visiting the aquarium
The air has never been cleaner
Are bats bouffons?
Is this a huge bouffon piece called
Now you go to you room and you figure out your shit?

Doha, Quatar
crowds from all over the world with masks and without
Humanity in transit with hand-luggage of fear hope and sanitizing liquid
Children play
Children always play
and clowns too
Bless them all
There is an Indian family filming their dance choreography on the phone
My feet dance a little
It’s never too scary to have a dance
we share smiles
the airport fills with sunshine
that’s it
I need to remember to smile to strangers during this colossal event

The word ROME on the screen makes my dawn

I am on my second flight
It feels like a rescue flight for Italian nationals stranded abroad
tourists, travelers, workers, visitors
all caught by the Corona on their way
to the life that we had before
now heading to home lockdown
and the life that we will have after
Everyone wears masks
the Italians were hit earlier and harder
they got the point

Roma Fiumicino Airport, welcome to Italia
Welcome to the show
The virtuosity of pandemic dysfunctional bureaucracy
Forms, no forms, which form, not that form, fill the form, here is another form, throw away that form, fill this other form, not like that, but your colleague told me something different, can I have a new form, here is another form, do you have a copy, no I don’t, make two copies, but the back page has no name, what? you need to take a picture, I take a picture, six pictures you never know…

Fuck these fucking forms!
I spent my entire life as Italian citizen filling forms
Not even the pandemic will save us from this curse
And the spaces are too narrow, there are typos all over
who the fuck designed these forms !?
I am a clown and a slapstick administrator
but my Helikos enrollment forms are far better than that
The country of Leonardo is doomed by forms

Welcome to Italia
Carabinieri, Polizia, Guardia di Finanza, airport staff, airline personnel
all improvising on different canovacci
Welcome to the Pandemia dell’Arte

I am through, I am allowed to return home to quarantine myself
I have the form in my phone!
I walk through the deserted airport
where are the rental cars?
Are you alone sir, yes, please go ahead

At the Europcar desk
a kind man in a pale green mask works inside a plexiglass box
I wait in line, nobody speaks
at a counter nearby there is a loud argument
The attendant is refusing to give a car to a man with an international license
he doesn’t have the original Italian one
the man shouts
the rules sir these are the rules
despair is in the air
another man is charged 600 euros for a one way rental
he has no reservations
the market has no pity

It’s my turn
I have a voucher
this is not a good day to improvise reservations
I actually have two
and a plane reservation for tomorrow
the only flight to Venice
Which stone is the good one to throw?
The first one you see
and then the next one and the next one

There is a scanner on a stand outside the plexiglass box
I scan my papers and credit card
I have to use my own pen to sign
the man in the pale green mask is visibly tense
thanks for your work good luck, thank you we need it

I am out, it’s almost sunny, I have a red car
I sit inside I want to laugh and shout and cry
I look around
A woman in the nearby rental car is sanitizing the steering wheel
What the hell I’ll do it too
We smile, sunshine

I am off
driving on the deserted Rome Ring Road
exhausted, relieved, worried, will they control me? will there be road blocks?
the news online spread terror about controls and fines
But I am ok, I am going home right? I have the right to go home, have I?

From Rome to Padova. Through the heart of Italy.
Virtually no cars, just a few lorries and long stretches of deserted motorway.
Ghostly gas stations. Lorry drivers taking a pause.
A clown texting I made it, so far so good.

I have driven from Florence to Padova so many times
But never during a dystopian movie
Drive drive drive
Focus focus focus
This is a 40 hours sleepless day

Padova
I came from here
I am back

I drive by my house
my partner has prepared some groceries for my quarantine
we greet with the corona in the space between us
loving from three meters away
the world is upside down

I drop the car at the deposit
a taxi brings me to the Helikos Studio
I made it
What a joy to be back here
What an unmitigated relief
surrounded by masks, costumes, books and spirals
the hand-made furniture of the Florence studio
and countless memories of poetic joy
and the students everywhere
in the memory of forms and feelings

My poetic body and my physical body are delighted in this quarantine
I am immersed in the poetic field
the best antiviral ever

The poetic body is collective
now I know it
Every person I have worked and played with is here with me
Thank you so much for all the beauty and the laughter and the poetry

Missing is creation
I miss you
I create

Longing is devising
I devise the present

Let’s devise a heartwarming present
and a future of new and ancient forms of collective joy
and delightful social proximity

I wish you well
Be safe
With your loved ones
On this beautiful planet

What a treat to be alive