A patchwork of personal messages responding to Covid-19 could be displayed across the National Mall in Washington, DC

A rendering of "Change Is in the Air." Photo courtesy of Poetic Kinetics.

President Donald Trump seems to want to wilfully wish the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic away as he pushes for states to reopen. He is not alone in looking to the future, however. Change in the Air, a crowd-sourced project by the Los Angeles-based artist Patrick Shearn and his collective Poetic Kinetics, will gather thousands of answers for an aerial canopy installation slated to be displayed in the National Mall in Washington, DC. Participants will submit messages answering either of the questions: “What if we had?” or “When this is over…” on the project’s website or on social media using the hashtags #whatifwehad or #whenthisisover. The messages will be written onto a single streamer and incorporated into the work; the more messages, the larger the work will be.

Many submissions so far put pressure on the president's administration for their handling of the pandemic, asking questions like: “What if we had imagined more for ourselves than the status quo we were presented?” and “When this is over we will know what it takes to do better.” Others openly address the structural inefficiencies of the US healthcare system that have been laid bare by coronavirus, asking: “What if we had a system that cared for and protected everyone?”

The collective writes that the pandemic “has forced us to slow down and evaluate what we need most,” and encourages the public to “share your feelings to give voice to this moment in time.” The idea stems from the collective’s Visions in Motion project last year commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which featured 30,000 handwritten messages on colourful streamers that were suspended near the city's Brandenburg Gate.