One of the strangest periods in our life was the 2020 lockdown in Spain, during which residents weren’t even allowed to leave their homes except for grocery shopping. For weeks, we stayed indoors — hanging out on Zoom with friends and family, watching loads of TV series and movies, and playing board games. So naturally, when the hard lockdown ended, we felt the need for as much cultural stimulation as possible. And Valencia’s museum’s had us covered.
We were a little trepidatious the first time we went into a museum — Covid was still raging at this point, after all, and we’d just spent weeks completely cut off from humanity. Also, we assumed that the museums would surely be full with other culture-starved people like us, looking for any opportunity to get out of their houses. But it was the opposite; we were almost completely alone in every exhibit we visited. With plenty of time, plenty of solitude, and the inescapable sense of weirdness still looming over the city, it was a wonderful time to contemplate art. I think we appreciated it in a different way than we might have, ordinarily.
We especially loved our post-lockdown visits to the CCCC (Centro del Carmen de Cultura Contemporánea), the IVAM (Institut Valencià d’Art Modern) and the Bombas Gens, a contemporary art gallery situated inside an old factory near the Parque Marxelenes; for the most part, these were all contemporary or modern exhibits, and although we often find ourselves rolling our eyes at “pretentious” modern art, immersing ourselves in these strange and often beautiful exhibits was exactly what we needed after having been confined for so long.
The museums were a perfect way to re-introduce ourselves to the idea of mingling in public spaces again. We could go outside, be mostly alone, and do something interesting for an hour, before quickly scurrying back home to safety. Now, as we enter the third year (!) of the pandemic, things have relaxed a lot; most people are vaccinated, and the lethality of the virus has waned to the point that I can be relaxed even among a large crowd. So it’s already becoming hard to remember how tense the atmosphere was during those first few months. Seeing the photo below, with chairs spaced out two meters apart in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento is a stark reminder of how careful everyone was during those early days.
Please enjoy this batch of random photos, which takes us back to the summer of 2020, when Valencia was a weirdly quiet place — and perhaps more weirdly beautiful than ever.