Summer 2020

Have you lost track of time since that day back in March when Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the United States? Do the days run together while also feeling like they each mark an extreme historical event?

On March 24, artist and teacher Piotr Szyhalski found himself confined at home, reflecting on the role of the artist in processing this dizzying reality. He discovered seven sheets of paper in his basement and was drawn back to memories of growing up during a time of political strife in Poland. Art supplies could not be squandered.

On that day, and every day since, Szyhalski created a stark black-and-white drawing that attempts to unpack the impact of these extreme historical events on the fabric of our daily lives, in real time. Numbering 105 on this writing, each includes the number of known Coronavirus cases and deaths on that day.

The German word “Zeitzeuge” captures the essence of what Szyhalski understands his role as an artist to be. Sometimes translated as “contemporary witness” or “eyewitness,” there isn’t an equivalent in English that expresses the word’s dual relationship to witnessing and time. If translated directly, we might call Szyhalski a “Time Witness.”

You too are a Time Witness. Stop back by these windows on 4th Street every week (until September 1) to see the next seven “Labor Camp Reports.”