How many toilet rolls can you draw? Malaysian artist sketches Covid-19 situation daily

Visual artist Meikei Ho takes to daily sketches to make sense of the Covid-19 stay home situation.

Local visual artist and educator MeiKei Ho has posted a series of daily works on Instagram ( in response to the Covid-19 shutdown situation in recent days. The imagery she works with is clearly a reflection of our new reality: people in face masks, rolls upon rolls of toilet paper, a cupboard filled with instant noodles and staying home - or #dudukdiamdiamdirumah.

“I was concerned about what would happen here, even before the number of cases in Malaysia spiked. I looked at other countries who were dealing with this and thought, this isn’t just numbers on paper, it is human lives at stake here, ” says Ho, who is known for her repetitive childlike-art laced with social issues and identity politics.

The KL-based artist echoes the concerns of many about non-compliance - and yes, here’s looking at you, all those who insist on flouting the movement control order which started on March 18.

“I see news on people still 'lepaking' at the mamak, gathering in big groups, going for their jogs... it is really selfish and irresponsible of them. I am afraid of what is going to happen here if people insist on doing this. I am afraid that we won’t make it, ” she says.

Ho's '#SaveUs' (acrylic on canvas). Photo: MeiKei HoHo's '#SaveUs' (acrylic on canvas). Photo: MeiKei Ho

Toilet paper is flying off the shelves, probably serving to allay fears more than its intended purpose at the moment.

“I was confused at first, I wondered about why people are rushing for toilet paper rolls. But then I read an article explaining the psychology behind it, that buyers are simply trying to get some sense of control. Though I do wish that while we are shopping for essentials, that precautions could be taken, ” she says.

In one sketch, Ho captures the restlessness that comes with being holed up at home. Unaccustomed to such measures, many are lamenting what they perceive as going stir crazy within the confines of four walls.

“There are too many people not following the rules, to the point that our Prime Minister had to tell us like a father, ‘Duduk diam diam di rumah’. Staying at home can now save our country. We need to help each other get through this challenge, ” she says.

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