by Kevin Toolis
In Gone, Kevin will explore how a multi-voiced bardic epic poem, with different artists, could capture the universality of our collective loss in the COVID pandemic. Artistically, the aim is to create a true art work, a filmed mini-epic poem, containing different jagged elements of particular experience but unifying these individual elements within a broad theme, reflecting who and what has been lost in our first global digital pandemic. And what has been gained.
To give a parallel example, in his poem Easter 1916, W.B. Yeats captures in one phrase “a terrible beauty is born” the complex emotions, ambivalence, disregard, recognition, acceptance and awe, felt within the Irish nation over the violent and largely futile 1916 Rising. Gone seeks to combine the same particularity and universality of loss, sickness, recovery, fear, and grief, in a single epic bardic work.
Art, when it works, has a transformative universality that enables us to see ourselves in a new light. COVID was not the first plague of humanity but it is our first global digitally-connected plague, our first global relearning of our mortal biological vulnerability, and the shattering of a naïve scientific faith that mortal infection lay in our human past. Now we know it does not, and other pandemics may well happen again. Our world is changed, changed utterly, to adapt Yeats.
Film on social media is the great art form of our time and is able to reach every person on the planet who owns a smartphone. Gone is targeted at this global audience. The aim of Gone, like Yeats’s Easter 1916, is to hold and grasp something within this global phenomenon of disease, death, and loss, that reaches out to every heart.