"Coronart" by Mathery

By Alixandra Rutnik Posted on Mar 18, 2020

YG 16 winners take to Insta-art to explain COVID-19

It’s almost like coronavirus was made for meme culture.

As so many of us have sealed ourselves off from the outside world, a not insignificant part of my work-from-home isolation has included sending and being sent the most hilarious COVID-19 meme content. It would appear that laughter is the best medicine — after avoiding other people, obsessively washing your hands, and never touching your face.

But the coronavirus pandemic is serious; All over the world people are on lockdown/quarantine/shelter-in-place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s happening and it is real. And it's especially real for Erika Zorzi and Matteo Sangalli, the Italian-born, Brooklyn based creative duo (and Young Guns 16 winners) otherwise known as Mathery. The pair have taken to Instagram to display the realness of coronavirus via a bright, cheery, and shareable photo series with serious undertones. Through practicing safe social distancing, we received crucial background information behind the Mathery's COVID-19 "coronart" collection.

Erika Zorzi (L) and Matteo Sangalli are Mathery

Instagram is a great place for social sharing and its now a very appropriate place to connect with others while also practicing social distancing. What inspired this COVID-19 Insta art?

We realized how much information — some real and some fake — was spreading about the coronavirus in Italy, and how important Instagram is to visually share this kind of awareness. Now that people are spending so much time at home in quarantine, Instagram is more popular than ever; it is a place to escape and keep in touch with other people. This crisis has made us appreciate the impact of the platform more now than ever before.

How did you begin planning on creating these posts?

Creating this content has been and continues to be very intense — we wanted to act fast. As soon as we got the idea we went into production right away. We knew there was no time to lose, because information and new developments about the coronavirus are updating and changing every day. We don’t know what’s coming next, and our lives will be different in the next few months, for sure. Staying and working at home is definitely an interesting topic.

What message are you trying to send out to all our New York City neighbors and the world in general?

The situation in Italy is pretty bad, but with the quarantine, it seems to be getting a bit better. Italy and China have sort of been the “guinea pig” countries, and we should use their experiences, successes, and failures as an example. The US is only a week or two behind Italy’s situation. We don’t want to sound catastrophic, but we don’t want Italy’s disaster to happen here. Let’s start with prevention and let’s not undervalue the COVID-19 and its impact.

Your Insta hinted that you are creating all this content from home. Give us the play-by-play on how everything is going down.

We travel a lot for work, but we also work from home for long periods of time for a number of years now. We make a big mess, then clean up and start a new day where everything repeats. Working from home is definitely inspiring our creativity, because staying home is exactly what we should be doing right now and it's what we want to talk about in our Instagram content. So apart from a quick stop to the dollar shop next door on day zero, we haven’t gone out and we have shot everything from home using seamless paper for backgrounds from previous works and personal objects as props.

"Working from home is definitely inspiring our creativity, because staying home is exactly what we should be doing right now and it's what we want to talk about in our Instagram content."

The look of the campaign is very “on brand” for Mathery...

This is what comes spontaneously to us; the coronavirus photo collection is definitely one of the most colorfully saturated works we have done in a while because we want to grab people’s attention as they are scrolling through the 'gram. There is a certain humor in the ideas we photographed, but at the same time, it was more important to write the right captions that explain our point of view and what we know about the topics from our families and friends in Italy.

We were afraid that we were going to be attacked by the “haters” saying that we are making fun of the virus, which of course is not our intention at all; we have been positively surprised, a lot of people have shared our posts thanking us for spreading the word.

Assuming we all get out of our isolation one day, what's the next thing you are going to be working on after the coronavirus dissipates?

A project about weddings and how people stick together; it’s been in our personal projects list for a while now!

Have you been in contact with any family or friends in Italy?

Our whole inspiration came from them; they have been living one of the hardest periods of their lives. People we know got sick. Some got better, while others are still quite ill. We know they can’t go out anymore, they can’t visit families and friends, they can’t walk their dogs or go out for a run. They have to wait in line for one hour outside supermarkets that only allow groups of ten people to enter at the time. Jobs are canceled and people can’t work. Our friends who are nurses and doctors are emotionally overwhelmed and risking their lives, while hospitals are overcrowded. Believe us, the healthcare system in Italy is fantastic, but this presents an unbearble strain on it.

But let’s stay positive! People are trying to remain human and gather a lot online, speak, sing, and have parties on balconies, there is a lot of solidarity and it is inspiring.


Young Guns winners and One Club for Creativity Members get featured here on the One Club website and across our social media channels. Have a new project you'd love to share? An upcoming exhibition and you'd like us to help spread the word? Drop us a line at membernews@oneclub.org.




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