“As sad as coronavirus is – and I’ve had friends who fell ill – you have to do your best. It’s like a gigantic snowstorm that’s covering the world but sooner or later, like winter, it will pass. It is an interesting time. It’s strange because there’s a lot of anxiety on all sides about what’s happening but one has to find some things funny and some things interesting even in such a dark time; boredom can actually lead to creativity.
To me, opening the window is enough; it’s akin to going out. In a strange way this is a utopia: this is what I love – that ability to be at my table drawing and painting and thinking about new things is an amazing privilege. I’ve produced an entire new series of drawings, a new set of ideas. It’s been creatively wonderful for me.
This event has given people a question mark. Who are they? What are they doing? What is the world about? It’s as if – if one believes in God – God had posed the question: now that we have this technological and interconnected society, who are you? What are you here for? What is your daily life about? It’s really a kind of special period, tragic as it is that people are dying.
I actually thought of this quote I remembered from Picasso, who said, ‘When I became an artist, I threw away my watch.’ I think we are all becoming artists because the watch no longer plays the same role: our routine has really changed, it’s not the clock’s time any longer.
It’s also like one of Leonardo da Vinci’s ideas, where he says that if you want real inspiration, you should look at a wall. At the beginning it looks blank but if you persist for five, 10 or 20 minutes, you’ll begin to see things that would be complete compositions for paintings. And that’s true. I’ve been looking at my walls in a different way and I came up with ideas; architecture is an art.
I’ve been rediscovering my own home. Being suddenly thrown back into the place you really love – though it’s spooky because you’re in a spaceship above an empty city and you need to be a commander of the capsule – you have to make the most of it. It’s a wonderful period in that sense: discovering what you have, which you have neglected.”
About the interviewee: Libeskind is the Polish-American architect behind the Jewish Museum in Berlin. He spoke to monocle’s Nic Monisse.