23 April 2020


These Extraordinary Times with Travis Jeppesen

Q & A

Image: Courtesy the Artist

These Extraordinary Times with Travis Jeppesen

LP: How has your daily routine changed?

TJ: I’ve never had a daily routine. That hasn’t changed. Instead, I usually have a set of tasks that I try to accomplish each day, like fulfilling a certain word count on a novel I’m working on, making four or five calligraphic ink paintings, spending an hour on e-mail. I wound up going nomadic for two-and-a-half months – partly out of necessity, though it was also in a sense an intuitive response to the pandemic, to not ground myself in any one place for too long (before, of course, traveling itself became a major threat) – and because I’m accustomed to these conditions of volatility, I’m usually able to adapt.

LP: Many artists work in solitude ordinarily. How has isolation or social distancing affected you in these times?

TJ: My circumstances are unique. I live in Shanghai, and was fortunate to be in Australia over Chinese New Year, when the epidemic hit Wuhan. Since it was clear I would be unable to return to China for some time, I spent the next three months traveling, mostly to remote islands in Oceania, many of which still haven’t been much affected by the virus. I returned to Shanghai just hours before they announced they’d be closing the border to foreigners, and only had to endure a 14-day home quarantine. I was released a couple days ago. Life has mostly returned to normal here, though the level of surveillance has noticeably increased. There’s more paranoia, in general, and a disturbing tide of xenophobia rising.

LP: If there is any silver lining, what is it?

TJ: I have more time and excuses now to watch television than ever before. I’ve been particularly taken with CNN’s recurring homages to corporations, the real unsung heroes of the pandemic. Krispy Kreme, for example, recently donated tens of thousands of boxes of doughnuts to America’s healthcare workers. Given that these people are the most vulnerable, owing to their daily exposure to the virus and countless overtime hours devoted to fighting it, we can at least rest assured that they are fortifying their immune systems and maintaining their physical heartiness by gorging themselves on these nutritious, life-sustaining morsels. Thanks to such inspiring gestures by global CEOs, it wouldn’t surprise me if, say, Philip Morris were to soon follow suit, gifting a carton of Marlboro Reds to every COVID-19 patient currently hooked up to a ventilator.

LP: Make up your own question and answer it:

TJ: When will it all end? It already has.