Sorry we missed you
Since March of 2020 the physical and emotional space between each of us has widened like a deep chasm along an active fault line. Many of us are now largely alone in an echo chamber with ourselves: ungrounded and isolated. Floating. We are working from home without contact with our colleagues, our children are attending school online removed from daily interaction with their classmates, and we have severely limited if not eliminated the social gatherings with friends and family that we’ve enjoyed throughout our lives. We’ve tried to connect online, but became tired of virtual interaction. Some of us have found ourselves waving to parents and grandparents through panes of glass, pining to touch our loved ones. And despite this careful distancing, we have lost so many of our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. Our isolation is a necessity in order to protect one another – but, it’s left a lasting impression on us. Some of us have tried to make the best of the alone time: we sipped quarantinis, attended virtual dance parties and learned to make sourdough bread or planted “victory gardens” in an attempt to find a silver lining.
As the last year passed by, small and midsize businesses closed, many permanently. “For Lease” signs populated our shop windows. Many industries such as travel and hospitality vanished, constricting cultural exchange and all but extinguishing the potential for adventure. We stayed indoors trying to find ways to occupy our time. The dream of abundant employment opportunities and the promise of engaging in a vibrant community was stolen from us – hopefully temporarily – though some of the changes we have seen will endure. Once buzzing city centers - many of which were already underutilized and in decline - have gone silent. City buildings and suburban retail centers that had long ago fallen into disrepair eerily await our return, while new sites join the process of 4 decline as constant investment is required to preserve our structures. Some of these sites have begun to show movement on the scale between the built environment and the natural world as nature begins to lay claim to them.
As we travel to these old familiar places, ducking our heads into doorways that have not been used in some time, we find that vestiges of what was abound. We have left traces of ourselves in every nook and cranny of our towns and cities. These human remnants are not dissimilar to messages in a bottle: they are clues to what came before, a voice waiting to be discovered if the recipient is open to receiving. Markings left by those who stood in the space you are standing in now are mysteries waiting to be solved. Who was here? What were they like? Where are they now? Time is all that separates us from one another in such spaces of investigation. When lost in thought in an empty reverberating room, we daydream nostalgically of lively vibrant gatherings full of smiling faces – they are so close yet so far away from us now. Sorry we missed you is an attempt to make tangible the emotional quality of the sustained isolation and economic decline that characterizes this time.
Sorry we missed you extends an open hand to the viewer and whispers “I understand how you feel, I’m feeling that way too. I miss you. I miss people. I miss people like you. I’m worried about our futures just as you are. I am right alongside you, feeling the vacancy of this moment and waiting for the day when we are together again - rebuilding.” -Lisa Dillin