And then, coronavirus hit. We’d been hearing the news from Italy, the few cases in a ski resort not far from Grenoble, and then it was clearly becoming established throughout France. Educational establishments were shut down in early March – I had to collect what I could from the university in the hope of continuing my research from my Airbnb.
In the week beginning 16 March I was supposed to start two weeks of public workshops with two of the Maisons des Habitants in the city, working with migrant groups. I was also supposed to be doing a 3-day workshop with students from the art school ESAD. By 13 March it was clear that those would not be going ahead – more and more public institutions were closing, and then on 17 March confinement was imposed. We were not to go out except for essential purposes; if we went out we had to carry with us a form saying where we lived and what our purpose was. If we didn’t have it, or weren’t obeying the rules, we could be fined. (One day, out for a run, I was stopped and told that 3 km was too far to be from my residence.) Obviously, it was pretty hard to carry on with anything from that point. I worked a little on writing, and reflected with the materials I had on where I might go from here. Eventually, it became clear that I would have to come back to London. I lost three weeks of the residency, and most crucially, the public activities I was planning, that were a really important part of the research.