We’re delighted to be able again to share Saskia Rook’s thoughful and compelling work, Wifi Hug. Created in May 2020, the work conveys the challenge and strictures of online relationship while depicting the goodness of such digitally mediated friendship in threadbare times. Figuratively it plays with lines representing fibre cable, but what it foregrounds is our shared humanity. As such, this “lockdown art” remains as current as ever, a fitting and moving image of our common life.
After eight weeks of isolation, hugs with friends seem like a forgotten luxury. But the feeling of them lingers in your body’s memory even after you click to hang up the call: the squishy tightness of greeting a best friend, the joy of celebrating together, the intimacy of grieving together.
Friendship is a wholly different experience during a global pandemic. Lockdown has highlighted both its fragility, and its strength. Some friendships fray with the distance and time apart. Life events pull and tug us through different seasons concurrently. Spring is winter, somewhere, and it’s difficult to remain present in both simultaneously.
Some friendships have been strengthened over flimsy, invisible strands of wifi, fibrous with the realisation that friendship is precious and old friendships are treasures: hard-won and worth protecting. With the luxury of time and not much else to do, we hang out through our device’s windows. We have more time to reflect, to be. There is less curation of our projected self—and self-disclosure of our unmasked self is sometimes a little easier through the protection of a screen.
If the knots of a fisherman’s net are like friendships, then the tiny strands in between are surely the gestures of intimacy and care: long chats through patchy wifi; small-group prayer over Zoom; chatting to your neighbours from two metres away; hugs. Woven together, they hold vast weight, plumb untold depths, and retrieve nourishment for all of us.