Law of Corona

Corona affected the life of billions of people - also my life was affected very strongly by Corona.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

Until the beginning of 2020, my life, work and art were based in Chengdu, China.

When my family and I came to Switzerland for a skiing vacation, we never could have imagined how this trip and especially the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 Virus and the strong response towards it would affect our lives. With the worldwide lockdowns and travel restrictions, Switzerland became our new (old) domicile.

But settling down wasn't easy: Because of the partial shutdown in Switzerland, it was difficult to purchase clothing, kitchenware, furniture or art utensils. I had to act “illegal” and secretly purchase a frying pan or other necessities at the self-checkout counters of supermarkets. They were the only shops open but they were not allowed to sell non-food products. Some things we could order online, but it took weeks to arrive, some items and furniture we could order and pick up and some items we got from friends. Still, it took us almost two months to get decently equipped. Towards mid May, we finally had more than just a pair of shoes or a winter jacket.

Now, we live in the beautiful mountain area of Glarus, Switzerland

Urnerboden, Uri, Switzerland - photo by Antonio Wehrli
Waterfall Leuggelbach, Glarus, Switzerland - photo by Antonio Wehrli

A return to China is impossible until further notice.

Of course, I wanted to start creating again. I missed working on my art in the first several weeks where we lived in Airbnb’s hoping to return to China.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

My first art project here in Switzerland is also my first political work series. It’s called the “Law of Corona”.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

I had to watch in disbelief as one country after another declared a state of emergency and excessively curtailed the rights of its citizens. Fortunately, I was in Switzerland, where the partial shutdown was also very tragic and plunged many people into economic need, but it was not as inconceivable as in Spain or the USA. Millions of people lost their jobs and income.

Lockdown - Spray on Books on Wood - 2020 - Antonio Wehrli

The consequences of this panic lockdown campaign around the world will probably only become visible in the coming months and years - provided that they are also propagated by the media. Much will only appear as side notes, such as UNICEF's fear that in the coming years not 15,000 children will die of hunger every day, but their 30,000! The UN is already talking of up to a quarter of a billion people starving to death in the coming months.

At the beginning of February I saw a very accurate image: (source unknown)

DEATH FROM STARVATION: 24,000 worldwide per day - no news - not profitable

CORONA VIRUS: 361 deaths worldwide in two months - Daily news "PANIC" - pharmaceutical industry expects profits

Close up "KILLED" - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

The consequences of the lockdowns are partially visible now and there are critical voices - even from doctors at the front. Greater than reason is the fear of death. The death rate of Corona, which according to recent calculations by Prof. Hendrik Streeck, who thoroughly researched the outbreak in the town of Heinsberg, Germany, is actually only close to 0.37%. He and his team took samples of all people and living beings in the town, checked door knobs, liquids, air, etc.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

How could it happen that non-life-threatening sick people were no longer admitted to hospitals? Even in small Switzerland, the financial damage to hospitals is estimated at up to CHF 1.8 billion (source NZZ). But more important than the financial damage is the health damage. The consequence of a late treatment leads to either rapid death or acute illnesses becoming chronic ones. Every day, an average of 1670 cancer patients die in the USA alone. This rate might shoot up because of the lockdown.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

Only Sweden and a few third world countries partially resisted the mass panic.

All over the world, the countries were suddenly no longer governed democratically, but by a few specialists, such as Ferguson or Fauci, who calculated questionable models and projected pure horror. They had underestimated and neglected the virus for weeks just to subsequently advice on lockdowns with very short notice. Whole populations got locked up because of a sickness that wasn’t understood. I believe that if the assessments had been more realistic from the start, it should not have come to those lockdowns. In addition, Media and politicians ignored the fact that the projections of possible deaths in the past by Neil Ferguson were accurate to a few percentage points in the small single-digit range. Governments followed their specialists' instructions for fear of the consequences calculated by them. As a result, the citizens of all countries were suddenly de facto patronized, mostly voluntarily, with full consent.

Close up "O" - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

COVID-19 is a serious disease and the health care system had to be protected from being overwhelmed. But in my opinion, the complete lockdown in many countries was not the right solution and created a greater catastrophe than the virus itself. In addition, the rights of citizens in many countries, even in Switzerland, were too severely curtailed.

Below is the main artwork of the "Law of Corona" series. It is part of around 10 paintings or installations of which currently two are complete.

It’s name is "Corona tried to kill Democracy":

For the background of the 321cm x 261cm painting, I chose books from a disbanded legal library. One can discover many Swiss federal court rulings - since 1908 - as well as many law books, legal textbooks, introductions, accountability reports from cantonal higher courts, etc.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

I sprayed the area designed in this way with mostly dark and a few bright colors to emphasize the drama of the work and to give it the feeling of disreputability or illegality.

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

On closer inspection, the titles of the books are still visible and they can still be read because I did not tape over the pages.

Work in progress - artist Antonio Wehrli spraying white letters - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

Finally, I sprayed the lettering "Corona killed Democracy" in white,

Work in progress - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

to which the "killed" was changed to "tried to kill" with signal red color - a little hope for this gloomy time. But not too much hope, because the "tried to" in signal red is a little less visible than the white capital letters.

Close up "tried to" - Corona tried to kill Corona - Antonio Wehrli

The Corona paintings invite the viewer to consider whether the partial shutdown by emergency law was legal and or necessary.

Originally, I did not want to judge, just ask.

But the paintings are a criticism: Why did the shutdown come surprisingly within days after the situation was underestimated for weeks? Why were there draconian lockdowns? Why was Switzerland, like all other countries, not better prepared?

Close up "Bundes-Staatsrecht" - Corona tried to kill democracy - Antonio Wehrli

The lettering is in English since I want the artworks to address people and countries all over the world. I am hopeful that after Corona Switzerland will find its way back to the usual democracy, but I fear that in many countries arbitrary censorship and limitations in civil right could get stuck. In addition, the lockdowns may have destroyed the livelihoods of millions of people forever.

There is still a lot to write and a lot has been written. Therefore I end my thoughts here and leave the room to you - the viewer.

Lockdown in living room setting - Antonio Wehrli - 2020

Corona tried to kill democracy - 2020 - Antonio Wehrli

All the best!

Stay safe!

Antonio Wehrli

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