Observations on Death and Life of Public Space in Australia during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gregor Mews, Milica Muminovic

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Abstract

“Do not touch me, touch and deal with other people in the spirit of love” is stated upfront in Zizek (2020) recent reflection on the unprecedented global pandemic that has a firm grip on our societies. The quote makes two strong points that highlight the essence of this commentary. First, it implies that during the global COVID19 pandemic each and every one of us is forced to deal with their on human spirit embodied through the ontological state of existence and apply mindfulness and accountability for their actions in their everyday life routines. Second, public life in cities is different. Quickly the ‘new normal’ dictates our everyday life routines while systemic spatial issues being amplified, while social distancing measures are in place and restriction on social encounter being enforced. We present an argument that is based on direct observations of lockdown conditions during the first wave in 2020 in the Australian context. Careful framing around the concepts of ‘urban loveability’ and public space allows us to critically examine the synergy between aspects of the human spirit that celebrate and unite us. Whether the ‘new normal’ embraces death or life is evident if we pay attention to detailed traces of dynamic and intangible elements in public spaces. They remind us what makes us human and holding the possibility to realise a new ontological state of existence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
Number of pages10
JournalThe Journal of Public Space
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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