Everybody is dealing with the COVID-19 quarantines and restrictions in different ways. While there's no single right way to cope — social distancing and staying TF home aside — staying connected with friends, family, and neighbors is a good place to start. You can contact your loved ones on your own, but you might also be curious how your favorite strangers in Pittsburgh are coping, so Pittsburgh City Paper is reaching out once a day to artists, activists, workers, and makers to see how they're doing.
Today, it's multimedia producer and artist Njaimeh Njie.
What is your day-to-day routine like now? For instance, it's approaching noon on Monday, April 6. How did you spend your morning? What happens this afternoon?
I’ve worked remotely for years, so I still start my days the same: I’m up before 9 am to shower, meditate, (on the best days — it’s been a struggle lately), have breakfast, listen to my news podcasts, and scroll on social media. Around 9 a.m., I’ll dive into email. I’d usually be heading out the door around 10 a.m., but now it’s calls, virtual meetings, or I’m diving into projects I have on deck. Lately, that's been a lot of research, writing, and Photoshop. I break for lunch around 1 p.m. In the afternoons/evenings, I split my time between working and watching new (to me) films and/or shows until I break for dinner.
What were you working on at the time when the stay-at-home restrictions became official?
I’m doing a residency at Chatham this semester in the Immersive Media program, designing a virtual reality experience. We were preparing for a public presentation of the work on April 9th, but that’s been postponed until the fall. I was gearing up for a few workshop presentations and conferences later in the spring, I’m creating a new body of work for our Brew House Distillery Residency cohort at the Brew House gallery, and I’m in pre-production for a few short film and installation projects.
What is your favorite food to eat at the moment?
Anything warm and comforting. Last week it was chicken soup, this past weekend it was shrimp curry.
What piece of art/film/comic/book/TV/music is bringing you comfort/inspiration at this time?
This is tough because I’ve been watching and listening to a lot lately. While I’ve been working I’ve had Cleo Soul’s new album, Rose in the Dark, on steady rotation.
What’s an object in your house that has particular significance to you these days?
My tea kettle! Drinking tea has felt like a very calming, simple pleasure for me these days.
When was the last time you went outside, and for what?
I walked up the street to the grocery store to see if they had toilet paper. They did not.
What’s a photograph of yours that resonates with you right now? Both in general, and specifically from your series Route 65?
I took a photo on the North Side on Beaver Avenue, with the former Western Penitentiary/SCI building and the ALCOSAN treatment facility both in the frame. It makes me think about how issues like mass incarceration and access to clean water are intricately connected, and how inequalities in our society end up being stacked on top of each other. Our current crisis is shedding light on so many longstanding injustices, and it’s reminding me to really think about what life looks like beyond the “normal” that they’ve been allowed to thrive in.
What’s an organization you’d recommend giving to or supporting at this time?
Feed the Hood and The Hill District Consensus Group are collecting donations of food, gloves, to-go containers, sanitizers, disinfectants, toiletries, and baby products. The flyer (attached) has location, times, and contact information for drop-offs.