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To get to a so-called “open” future beyond the Covid lockdowns and social restrictions, we’re persistently told we now must “learn to live with the virus”. But the lesson delivered in this scenario is hardly edifying. Getting wise about the contagion, as one especially rancid right-wing state government in Australia has declared, is to acknowledge blithely that lockdown is now less the treatment for a public health crisis than it is the cause of an economic problem. The Covid-normal life we must learn how to live will be measured not by the exigencies of adaptation but by the eugenics of survivalism. In past pandemics and plagues, herd immunity was a cruel but artless weeding out of the unproductive constituents of a population. Now it is the key performance indicator in the metrics of malignant socio-economic policy. But for those who survive the purge, in such a future way of life, the difference between living and dying with the virus collapses into a neutralised plateau of survival as “living death”.

This is the dark background noise for a session that ponders “what remains”: what remains of life in the “ever after” of the pandemic. Three cinematic stories—from Edward Colless in Melbourne, and Adrian Martin and Cristina Lopez in Barcelona—converge as a metafictional reflection on living in the future ruins of the pandemic present. The session has been convened, and curated, by Edward Colless.

Dr Ted Colless
Adrian Martin + Cristina Lopez

Stephen Haley, Future Photo – Parliament House, 2017. Photographic print face-mounted to perspex 25 x 40 cm. Courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery, Melbourne