Testimonials – Essen

Testimonials - Essen

These are the answers to the questionnaire. People all over the world take a break in their life to reflect, think and feel their bodies and create an archive that we would like to increase. If after listening, you would like to take part in this project click here

I’m standing in the theater foyer. I am alone, there is no one here, no audience, no administrators, no staff. I listen to echoes that bounce off my voice and off the walls of the place where I spend a lot of time. This is my working place. This place was visited by many people, but I am completely alone now. Because it’s evening.

I remember the smells in my memory during the lockdown, but when I try to remember them, it seems to me that they are covered with a patina, I can hardly remember them all. The smell of coffee in the morning. The smell of flowers that you could smell when you left the house to shop. The smell of my apartment, where I spent a lot of time. This is the smell of my cat, her fur smells, because I hugged her. This is the smell of perfume that I smelled to remember what I wore to work, my favorite perfumes that inspired me. And
It seems to me that I cannot remember the taste of what I cooked every day. We were afraid that could be some problems with food in stores, we bought quite a lot, but I did not have the inspiration to cook anything. Now I think that it was like a descent under water, probably, this is what happens with astronauts who look into space or people who go to the inside of the sea. Although, in principle, we were all safe, I was with my beloved family and only the bad news was from the outside world were the worst thing.

Usually I listen a lot of music, but when we sat in lockdown, I didn’t want to listen anything at all. There were concerts that I watched on TV, online performances that went on the Internet, and I thought that I did not need so much treasures at all. I listened music and only Jazz radio channel allowed me not to go crazy. I still want to write a letter and thank them – at the time when I could not think, I listened to jazz. It supported me, gave life-giving energy, which was not around me. But I would not say that the lockdown time was a time of depression or darkness or something terrible. Rather, it was a test. It is wrong to compare this with a prison or a time of imprisonment. Rather, it is a person in the face of circumstances and you test yourself, what you can be.

During the pandemic, I realized that we really lack physical activity. Even if we are at home, we lack this number of steps that need to go through, I did exercises with the fitness program via my smartphone and really missed the moment when I could hug my sister, niece, when I could go somewhere and easily kiss another person on the cheek, not thinking that he (she) is wearing a mask. I cannot do this until now. Usually when we meet – we hug, kiss, behave like normal people, but now the normality has changed a little. The perception of myself has not changed. The perception of the other person has become more important. You understand that any of your touch can leave a mark, you have not thought about it before.


During the pandemic, the personal appearance has not changed very much. Rather, it happened like this – I had to think about what the space around me, and when my husband saw that I was standing in front of the mirror, put my makeup on eyes or lips, he said – ah, you’re going to zoom! I said – yes, because I haven’t escape, and I can only go to the zoom. During this period, my makeup has become more than usual, simply because in the zoom, like on TV, you need to look a little different. Anyway, it was a reason to spend time in front of the mirror, which is also not bad. I really miss people I cannot hug from other countries. Because now communication between Russia and many countries is closed, for the first time I was able to leave my city only in 2021. I haven’t traveled anywhere for almost a year. I used to go to any country in the world every month. Now this chain was interrupted, a huge number of people who were around me remained virtually. Of course, we call each other, turn on wattsap and zoom, but I would really like to hug these people in reality. The worst thing is that I broke up with some people. We were together in the same company, but the term ended, and I didn’t even have time to say how much I love them. Hug. Kiss. Touch. It’s the most important. I really miss my team.

When I remember lockdown, it was yellow color for me. I don’t know why such a sunny color can be associated with such a dark time, but I think that Shakespeare has the phrase
“ And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
So like to him that got it, if thou hast
The ordering of the mind too, ‘mongst all colors
No yellow in ‘t”.
Maybe there was only yellow paint left for me at that moment, or maybe it was the color of the wallpaper in my room and the bedspread that I saw behind me at meetings in the zoom. And I sat in zoom for a very long time.

And this period, when we were stuck at home, I could describe with the words “never again”. I don’t want to go through it again.

I live in a house/hotel on a tropical island, a very beautiful place, few people. I live surrounded by a beautiful garden full of wonderful plants and birds that sing all day. I am on the veranda and I see the calm and blue sea, the deserted beach, some clouds in the sky with a wide and relaxing horizon. Total silence is pleasant and the isolation, more accentuated in this period, is an unwanted, but certainly useful, pause for reflection. The fabric armchair with wooden armrests awaits me every morning, I look at the jasmine flowers and the perfume takes me back to a peaceful and carefree childhood. It really seems to be back to the time when it was all about games (1:06).
Here comes the smell of the morning coffee of the temporary neighbours that I spy with curiosity. They are young, engaged, polite, pleasant, badly dressed, certainly illiterate, noisy, drunk, beautiful, famous artists, very polite, doctors. They are all sorts!! But the smell of toast comes to my veranda, when I went to school the toast was made with olive oil, I remember that. Nostalgia for the smell of fried bananas with cinnamon when preparing breakfast for the guests of the now closed and sad hotel. The deserted garden of cosmopolitan presences brings me back to the thought that no one sees the flourishing of heliconias, which are very rare now. The scent of roses or the happiness of the plant that blooms after two years of intense care, those moments that I can no longer share with visiting friends, everything does not seem to have the same meaning without the presence of the world outside the gate. I try to give a new meaning, or simply a sense to everything. By dividing everything virtually without seeing an unexpected smile appear, or eyes sparkle for a discovery, the happy faces on holidays… I miss them so much!!
I keep a more local diet, because supplies are rarer here on the island. That unknown fruit is now a delicious wild fruit in the absence of the usual ones. The abundance of vegetable okra from the garden abandoned by the neighbour was the main meal for almost a month. Coconuts have become a daily drink and food to enrich the poor table without the normal foods that used to come from the supermarket. Roots as well were previously forgotten fruit from the garden and now are part of the daily diet. It was a joy to change food, now it becomes a bit monotonous to have to limit ourselves to what we find. The boiled bananas are always present, rich in potassium and very good and I am glad they have replaced the rusks. What if we had nothing? It is a touch of happiness to have something to munch. There is the desire to prepare different fruit trees and an organic garden, to recycle everything possible, to think more about respecting the environment, all this will only be good for me and good for others. Here is the lemon tree growing, the pomegranate, the acerola, the jabuticaba, the rambutam and even an orange tree! Near the sea it will be difficult, but with constant care I think they will make it.
It’s been two years, sometimes counting the time in isolation becomes even difficult. Looking back, the beginning was exactly two years ago with a video marathon, the Korean wave, the KPOP, the dorama, beautiful oriental boys, the East with its mystical music, hours meditating with the languid guzheng music. Visual art, artificial intelligence, the TED talk gyms, all very interesting. In the breaks from the virtual world, the sounds of the garden became rich in nuances, the names of the birds went from two to 32, in many years I had never seen how many different species shared my same space, and how different the sound of their singing was. The sound of the voices of visitors from all over the world has given way to the silence and the birdsong; to the flight of butterflies and the presence of unknown mushrooms; to the stories of travels, of beauties in unknown countries, of different languages and habits in the different countries of our visitors is a strong lack. Besides not being able to travel close, I don’t travel far away along with their stories.
The scent of Alcohol, the gel is now everywhere, alcohol is a news, but washing hands was already a good habit due to the fact of the tropical climate that with the high humidity rate lends itself to the proliferation of bacteria and fungi. Despite this, the hug was the way to greet everyone, even nice strangers. Having to give up the hug leaves everyone a little embarrassed. Keeping close friends away is also embarrassing. In the end, sometimes, for this reason, avoiding the meeting saves us from this embarrassment. However, visits are welcome and a kind of youthful joy is found in the meeting and conversation at a distance of meters. Sometimes comical, as if all that distance were theatrical, but necessary
Anger and helplessness alternate. Concerned with my future and my family, poor people, sick people, with authoritarian regimes, countries at war and beings without care. With a sense of guilt of having still escaped the worst, I think of the uselessness of vanities, of the fragile values that used to fill part of my daily life. Desire to be a better person! Rediscovering the ability to find the positive in a very sad world situation, makes me think of the colours of the rainbow, the lightness of the pirouettes of classical ballet, the poetry of silence.

I am sitting, with my legs spread, on the edge of a table, with my hands on the table, looking at a landscape of green, blue, grey, red roofs, I look at the left side at the silver-coloured sea, the sun shining mildly and in a totally relaxed atmosphere.
How do I feel? I feel encouraged, looking at what to do during the day, not reflective, I generally do a lot of reflections during the day and I think that is bad, the head gets tired with so much reflection during the day and at night, so I am calm, I got up calm, I bathed calmly and made myself a meal, a piece of chicken with fake fish and now I just had lunch, it’s late but I don’t care.
If I close my eyes, I can feel the sea air, but for example I do not feel the smell of wet soil, I do not feel the smell of the fair, I do not feel the smell of the fish market, I do not feel the smell of children … excuse me, I put silly. I don’t feel the smell of the nearby people. I don’t feel like getting on a bus or a taxi. I do not feel, I do not feel, I do not feel, that is what the pandemic causes me, the fact I do not feel, I do not socialise, I do not convert, I only live inside my world, without interacting with other people, I find it terrible, the human being is not made for living alone and isolated, even when living in isolation, at some point you want to talk to other people, that feeling of kissing a child and smelling their hair, for example, even that of the smelly old man, you don’t even feel that… this question leaves me bad
And finally I ask myself: why can’t science solve these things? Why does the human being want to go to other planets and is not able to resolve this problem? Why are we so poor in spirit that we are not able to improve as human beings, even when we keep hitting ourselves over and over again with the same things? I wonder if we will be able to assimilate this pandemic as a learning process or we will continue to devastate the planet in pursuit of the future when we still do not solve things as basic as a plague. I also reflect on the fact that this way of destroying ourselves is incomprehensible, because it is through fear and uncertainty. In wars people know that they are going to die, but so many wars have been ignored, and this chemical war ends up being the same as a war that works with weapons, this is the weapon of the future, this is what the planet will live from now on, anyone is going to be able to do this in the water, in the air, because I have no doubt that this is planned.

I am in my living room, sitting on the couch, looking at the white wall opposite. And hear, through the open window the street emptiness in front of the house. And my body sits very relaxed on the sofa.

I may just have a bad smell memory, but I don’t have any specific smell association with the time of the pandemic the last few months. And I would um say that it’s that, absence of new olfactory impressions is probably very significant for that time.

I don’t associate any specific flavor with this pandemic time. I don’t think I ate any different than I did in the pre-pandemic time. Maybe here, due to fewer restaurant visits, there were fewer new impressions than the time before.

Unfortunately I can say less… There is no concrete music that has marked this time for me or that I associate with this time, or maybe it is related to the fact that I am still, that we are all still in this time, and therefore there is simply a lack of distance. As for the sounds, I would also say that the absence of sounds, which I can’t name specifically, but which are connected with social life, with going out, with meeting people, that was the case in all these months.

Of course, I have less physical contact with other people. That is, I no longer shake hands with people, hug people less than I used to. But since I was a somewhat distant person before, I think I have changed less than other people… exactly, as far as my self-perception is concerned, I don’t think it has changed much, to be honest.

I have been doing less sports and very much so. And I miss my sporty “rest me”.

The fact that this time was very, despite everything, very rich in variety, it is difficult for me, or rather it is impossible for me to associate a color with it, because it was still colorful despite everything.
If I can associate this time with a part of my body, it is my belly. And if I have to describe it with a word or a sentence, I would wave the word “unclear”.

I am in my room, surrounded by my books and with my computer in front of me, since I am a student.
The place where I live is quite quiet and favourable for my studies, to advance my research and understand the lessons that teachers send me.
The memories I have of this period of confinement and this continuing pandemic reappear when I am sitting right here. Like, for example, the online courses, when I used to spend four hours or more a day in front of the computer, sitting here, taking classes with remote men; They were present through the virtual medium, clear, but remote, since months passed without us seeing each other physically.
It was a hard blow for me, I did not know that form of studies. It was a very difficult experience since the confinement arose in my first year of studies, when I had just arrived from Italy, when I had just left my Senegal, but I still learned. I learned that there were more essential things in life, than having many activities, going out, going and coming back, all that does not make the man. Instead, we have a lot to receive, staying calm, staying in the same place, doing the things we have to do, one way or another, adapting, in short … from this point of view, the fact that I am a student, that I had my books and the internet to have the information on a daily basis, that gave me a lot, it allowed me to cope that time of trial, to live it and go through it.
Nor can I say that physical contact is not important and that I did not need it; not being able to get together, not visiting each other, not being able to have a drink or eat something and laugh together, etc. Being part of a community of more than one hundred and sixty people who could no longer meet as before, eat and pray together, that was a hard blow … but you had to get used to it.
What changed in me and changed my view of the world is that, in life, it is not always about running, thinking that we can do everything, thinking that we know everything, thinking that we are everything. We have seen how much we need each other, we have seen how powerless we have been against this pandemic, we have seen how much nature, in a certain way, has imposed its law on us, this questions us, Man is not everything. And if I had to say one last word, it would be that this pandemic allows us to reconsider our relationship with the world, our relationship with others, our relationship with the environment. Because this disease results from something, where does it come from? Why have we contracted it? Why haven’t we been able to prevent or control the situation? That is the personal reflection that I have after this pandemic and that I share with everyone to end this speech.”

I have been living in Rome for 6 years and I spent the lockdown in Rome, in a district of East Rome known in the newspapers for its night life, it is called Il Pigneto, it is a lively place, it is one of the few neighbourhoods in Rome with an extremely clear identity, a fast, creative DNA, full of sociability, of things to do, of conversation that come ‘from below’, and perhaps also of many contradictions, but it is a neighbourhood that I like and I have always considered home since I knew it.

I spent the quarantine in a first floor house with a large terrace with my roommate, my cat Ugo, I remember it perfectly still being in this room with my legs crossed on the bed, my neck and my back resting between the wall and the pillow
I remember very well the sunbaths on the condominium terrace necessary to warm the soul, to recover some vitamin D, to breathe, to feel a little freer, because the sun never enters my room, I remember that condominium terrace well, I remember it because I never went up there again.
If I think about smells, I clearly remember the cooking smell, which came in at any time of day and night, from the adjacent buildings, from the nearby houses, there was always someone cooking something different, something good, something that usually I never liked it, because I cooked for myself what I liked every day.

If I think about touch I actually remember the rough texture of the canvas when I passed the brushes over it, I remember touching my paintings for a long, long, long time, and I remember very much the fact that I missed being able to sleep with my man. I remember it so much, it was a lack and an absence that in many nights was almost a presence, being able to touch, kiss, feel the hand contact with someone, know, being able to breathe the smell of someone else’s skin, being able to discover oneself physically, allowing oneself an inner journey also through the other, it was a strong lack, such a strong absence that I really remember it more as a presence

From the lockdown, I remember the noise of chatting, the noise of glasses touching each other, of dishes in the sink, the noise of the phone vibrating vibrating vibrating every night for a call, for another call, for a crazy group on WhatsApp, but most of all I remember the silence, the silence that was in the streets.

One day I took a walk a little longer than usual, it was about 6 pm, and there was no one on the street, there was just me, but the lights of the buildings were all on and this told that it was not August, because even in August it happens to walk through the streets of a completely deserted Rome, it is beautiful because there are no parking lots, the windows of the houses are closed, there is no one in the city, instead that day in the city there was everyone, each at their home, and myself on the street walking alone. I remember that day very well and I think I will remember it for a long time, closing my eyes in this room, a very long time

I have no memories of the taste, except the taste of the beer and a bitter taste on certain nights, when everything was fine and then suddenly everything was bad.
From this pandemic, I certainly remember the imbalance, the suffering, a little the loneliness but I also clearly remember the most beautiful part of this pandemic which was the safety, the security of being at home, of being able to pay a rent, to pay for food, the security of having someone in the other room who was ready to welcome any word, any mood, any proposal, and the security that inside that house, inside that little world, perhaps for a moment there was everything you needed (5:47).
From this pandemic, I remember May 4th and the fucking fear of going out on the street in contact with people, in contact with strangers, in contact with anyone who could in some way alter that strange but also extremely beneficial microcosm.
In my perception of life, I don’t think there is another way to define this period other than with the word ‘suspended’, a small time bubble that made me think that everyone has remained in the right place to find what they had lost or perhaps only what they had forgotten.

I am in a room that has white walls, there are Moby posters hanging on the wall, these are the posters of the shorts films that I have worked on, the room has a big window that brings the light to the entire room, there are two desktops, there is also two computers and four monitors, there is two monitors for each computer. There is a pink cat bed right next to one of the monitors and overall, this is my home office.

There are some smells that I missed during the lockdown and it is basically this smell of my friends’ colognes or perfumes, some of my friends that I worked with, they have like very specific smells, it is kind of hard to describe, but it is a smell basically of their own unique perfume and mixed with their outer body basically.

Ok so, when I think about quarantine there is one flavour that comes to my mind right away, and that is the flavour of cocktails. If I am a 100% honest, during the pandemic I have been drinking way more than before, so yeah, that is like when I think of it right away, even experimenting with new drinks that I never tried before, so it is definitely cocktails


During the pandemic yeah I have been listening to the same amount of music as before, I don’t think that has changed at all. The sounds that have affected me the most are definitely the regular city sounds like I am not, or I was not used to hearing regular trash trucks or lawn mowers, I don’t know birds, car honking, construction sounds, helicopters, whatever. I was not used to that, that feels completely new to me. When I was working in the office it feels that I was isolated, but now it is like I have a whole new world of sounds, so for me I have not noticed absence of sound, it is actually the other way around. I get to hear way more sounds.

Ok so, the way of touching someone else, it has changed a lot definitely, I used to hug and kiss my friends a lot, obviously I can’t do that anymore, people are very physically distant right now. I miss being able to hug people that I love, I miss hugging my friends, and yeah it is tough. I don’t think the perception of my own has changed though, I feel the same when it comes to myself.

I don’t think my way of looking has changed, I think it is pretty much the same, the only difference is that right now I try to pay more attention to details and I do notice when someone is not comfortable with something, I can tell when it comes to saying ‘hi’ or saying ‘bye’ or if I do something or if I get too close I notice minor details that I did not notice before, and I think it is because I am paying more attention (4:24).

Who do I miss seeing? Well, like I said before I do miss seeing my friends more often, I miss seeing my co-workers, even my boss.

And the last one,

if I had to describe this period with a colour, I think it would be brown. If I had to associate this period with parts of my body, I think it would be my abdomen and if I had to describe this period with a word or a phrase, I think I am going to say exhausting.

Good morning, it is a beautiful morning and, in my room, based on my chair and in a fully relaxed position; it seems to be quiet, only my fan is making a little noise.

Well, during the quarantine period things have changed a lot, we are living in fear, but slowly slowly we are overcoming the fear.

Being in the room particularly, I don’t have any memory of a particular smell that remains in my mind, but sometimes I think I miss some Indian Food, Indian Masala, because if I go to Indian restaurants, I could have some of gatte ka saag, being in this room it is not possible to go out.

At the same time, the quarantine gets people afar, of course, they have lost the touch, they are afraid to even give a hand shake. Being an Indian we don’t have the culture of giving a hug, but at least we give a hand shake; that seems to be missing this time because they are maintaining social distance.

Sometimes I play music in my room when I am bored up, I love some Indian music and some melodies and relax my mind; since I am a student I spend a lot of time concentrating on my studies, reading books, so it did not affect me much, I could make use of this time reading books; sometimes the book wall only remains in my mind.

During this period, the colour to describe, I don’t know exactly what particular colour that is, maybe yellow colour or something like that; and if this period would be coming with the body, maybe with the eyes, something that we should not touch, very delicate.
Well, this is a period of fear, in one word we can say about this time. Thank you.