JEAN-MARC CAIMI AND VALENTINA PICCINNI: LOCKDOWN RAMADAN
Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni
Artist duo Jean-Marc Caimi (b. 1966, France) and Valentina Piccinni (b. 1982, Italy) came to a creative approach to document the rather extraordinary and unprecedented celebration of Ramadan, the Islamic holy feast, in 2020. For ‘Lockdown Ramadan’ they made screen shots from live streaming sessions of famous Imams with thousands of social media followers, but also the unknown clerics with just a couple of viewers.
Worldwide Ramadan, known as a month of fasting, praying and reflecting within the Muslim community, is celebrated in a completely different way this year. Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus and the subsequent quarantine-imposed restrictions, mosques are closed to the public and people pray and celebrate from home. From Mecca to Jakarta, from North Jersey to Lagos, thousands of Imams and Quran lecturers around the world therefore organised themselves in order to stream their recitations live via popular ‘mainstream’ social media platforms such as Facebook and Youtube.
Caimi and Piccini have managed to find an effective angle on highlighting a rapidly emerging phenomenon – how micro and macro religious communities have found a comfortable place online. The 2020 sermons happen live from empty mosques, private spaces, studios, universities, open squares or secluded rooms. The spaces are either nicely furnished or completely bare and the clerics use any technical means at their disposal to go online, ranging from a smartphone to a proper TV crew.