all artwork shared courtesy of the artists and The Lockdown Collection

During April 2020, for the first twenty-one days of what South Africans term “the Lockdown” (elsewhere in the world referenced as “shelter in place” or quarantine), prominent South African artists were invited to create or share work that spoke to COVID-19 and its unfolding crises. A second series was organized in May 2020 as the national Lockdown was extended. “The Lockdown Collection” (TLC), was underwritten by sponsors in business and cultural communities and has generated funds to support vulnerable artists as well as the South African President's Solidarity Fund. The initiative has also occasioned an open call to other South African artists and creation of a special collection devoted to works by student artists.

Our essay explores how the initial project came about, the circumstances that led so many artists to respond with great energy and imagination to its...

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