ARTIST: MARIGOLD PETROS
COUNTRY: SOUTH AFRICA
MATERIALS USED: PEN, DUTCH METAL
My artwork describes the link between the mistreatment of the environment and the ongoing pandemic.
With the information that we know now, the outbreak likely occurred in a wet market in Wuhan. Media has depicted all wet markets to be riddled with filth, and overrun with exotic and wild animals. Although there are likely a few wet markets that fit that description, that is not very common among wet markets across South-East Asia. Wet markets are as normal as grocery stores in western societies. Shutting down wet markets permanently would not only take away people’s livelihoods but also disregard something that is just apart of a culture.
There are some wet markets where live animals are available for slaughter and consumption, some of these animals are illegally transported and have been forced out of their natural habitat. When you mix many different species of animals, in a small contained space, with fluids like blood and excretion – it becomes a playground for diseases to mutate and spread. These markets are usually located in densely populated cities which makes the spread even more rapid.
This pandemic does not surprise me, as mankind has had a long history of contracting Zoonotic diseases like Ebola, HIV, Anthrax or Mad Cow Disease. Which all come from a lack of respect for our environment. It is very likely that COVID-19 came from a bat, this is not to say that bats are the enemy in this situation. If we wiped out bats as a species, it would not fix the problem – in fact it would make matters worse, as bats pollinate the food we eat, as well as consume insects that carry other dangerous diseases. We need to protect the bats and protect our wildlife.
From another perspective the pandemic has affected the environment positively as we see nature restoring itself. Penguins strolling in Simon’s Town, Kudu in Pretoria’s suburbs, Venice’s clear waters and blue skies spread across what used to be dull and over polluted cities.
It’s uplifting because we can see that with change in our behaviour we can mend the effects on climate change. Although what will happen when the lockdowns are lifted? Will things go back to the way they were, or will we now make more of an effort to care for our environment?
The human race is blind and gluttonous, we can blame this “politician” or that “country” but at the end of the day, this outbreak is somewhat self-inflicted.
Mankind will face worse pandemics in the future if we continue to ignore what we are consuming and the disruption and disregard of nature.