All we need now is to stay home...

Carlos Alves de Sousa / President of United Photo Press / www.unitedphotopress.com
In fact it is so. The extraordinary times that we started to live, must be perceived (in the way we manage to do it, because we do not have the same time in our collective memory in current and previous recent generations) as changing everything, except the fundamental: our human condition, that the human being is by nature gregarious, that in that sense culture is part of our lives, characteristics and drives, and that our sense of survival often coexists with the need to have states of joy and hope, and for many Faith .

In the artistic sector, as is the case with the United Photo Press International Association and many others, it will not be a tsunami (after which what has collapsed is rebuilt) but a new paradigm, new types of purposes, different organizations . But if we have all the time in the world for that, it is important now to cut short in a serene but firm way, to act consistently, and to act in a supportive and selfless way. The cultural sector that is ours is part of this world, and has the capacity, as it has shown in other crises, to assume its civic role and its socio-cultural value.

As artists our reality can be a dichotomy -- most of us work and create alone yet our values and beliefs are largely common and we belong to a large global community.  Our actions and positive energy when taken together make a tremendous difference. 

What we are experiencing is not a 100, 1500, or 10,000 meter run. It is a Marathon, and this marathon may be more than 42.195 km from the original Greek. As such, we cannot start this new period as if we were running for 1,500 meters, because this way we would not even be able to finish 5,000 meters, let alone the marathon;

The defense of the health and safety of the teams, which was the focus, must now be accompanied by leaders who ensure work processes and methodologies that ensure the balance of facing difficult moments, such as the dissemination of ARTE in general online so that the thousands of exhibitions all over the world now crumbling and confined to a voluntary but unwanted enclosure, not to be forgotten in space and time, but carried out in the near future.

Whoever manages, somehow, to perceive the change because we will pass, and to anticipate their activity, their strategies, the communication of the brands, the activation of this new communication as soon as possible, will not only be exercising a civic duty, but also the to position itself competitively for the new normal that will come. If we have all the time in the world, we also have to know that the new world can emerge as unexpectedly as the previous one is ending.

Although we still do not have a clear idea of ​​what our lives will be like in the coming weeks or months, it has already become evident that we live in a moment that could redefine world politics and national policies. Suddenly, issues that were marking the agenda with some permanence, such as the rise of the extreme right or the complex departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, were relegated to the background.

The news, newspapers and social media were naturally monopolized by the pandemic. The comparison with 9/11 gives us some signals about the situation we are experiencing: after the terrorist attacks on the United States, newspapers continued to have sections on national politics, sport, culture or television. Now, national policy is subordinate to containing the epidemic, sporting and cultural events have been suspended and the TV channel grids have been changed. In just a few weeks, the economy and international trade have come to a halt, exposing the contradictions of a globalization that has helped to spread the disease, but which also allows us to work from home and consume the entertainment that helps the confinement time pass.

The fact that public life is subordinated to a single theme does not mean, however, that the policy is suspended, it is important to begin to reflect on how this crisis will structurally affect states and the international system. Therefore, in the near future (and we will have time for that) we should be aware of some scenarios.

United States

The crisis took several world leaders in the opposite direction, but the recklessness of Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro stood out. The way of doing politics that allowed them to triumph implied the devaluation of threats and the simplification of discourse. As candidates and as presidents, they refused to disallow arguments against vaccination and scientifically irrefutable truths in the name of regimenting extremist and more ignorant fringes of the electorate.

However, if for Trump this type of positioning seems to be a mere instrument to achieve his electoral ends (which facilitates the pirouettes he has played), for Bolsonaro it constitutes an ideological dogma that is expressed in actions such as the ostensible violation of social distance in coronavirus propagation period.

Covid-19 has exposed the risks of this model of political action in the rawest way. Trump reacted late and sees two of the pillars of his mandate consumed by the pandemic: the main American stock market index has already lost all accumulated gains since the beginning of his term; and the federal government will have to invest massively in health care, after three years of legal attempts and policies to destroy Obamacare.

The President of the United States now plays against time, trying to wear the commander-in-chief uniform against a rapidly expanding pandemic. The legislative and presidential elections are scheduled for November and the only certainty is that they will be monopolized by this crisis and by Trump's actions. By the time these lines are written, the governors of California and New York have already decreed the closure of non-essential stores, work from home and mandatory retirement, and the United States is already ranked sixth country with the most infected and the most mortal victims.


The European Union and its institutions, major players in the sovereign debt crisis, have little room for maneuver in this environment. In the current response phase, this is the moment for States.
Containing and mitigating the pandemic requires concentration of power, as can be seen from the declarations of a state of emergency, border closure and massive investment in public health services in different countries. In parallel, national governments are structuring immediate economic support.
However, sooner or later, the European Union will be called upon to take a more active role, especially for members of the Eurozone. It will be interesting to see if there will be an effective link between the immediate response to the new coronavirus and the recovery programs that will follow.
In 2008, in response to the crisis, the European Council encouraged an increase in public spending that ended up contributing to budgetary imbalances that the European institutions themselves ended up punishing.

The last year, in European politics, was marked by the widespread rise of the extreme right and Brexit. Everything is now suspended. With regard to political leaders, this crisis may redefine the relationship between citizens and their government, at a time when public health is the only variable under analysis.

The dimension that the problem is reaching in Spain and Italy - and that it may reach in other countries - puts us in a blind spot that makes any prediction impossible. The fall of Salvini or the difficult birth of the first coalition government in Spain now seems like realities from another universe. Negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, on the other hand, are suspended and the transition period cannot be ruled out.


The new coronavirus posed one of the most serious challenges for the Chinese regime since the beginning of the economic reforms of the late 1970s and 1980s. At a time of assertiveness as a power, China found itself in the center of the hurricane as the first country in that the virus was detected and from which it will have expanded.

It spread rapidly and the government had to take drastic measures to contain it at a time when the situation appeared to be out of control in Hubei province. The regime was forced to act strongly, which led to a drop in industrial production and exports, the pillars of the Chinese economy.
Rapid action, apparently, has made it possible to contain the epidemic and, at a time when it is spreading to the rest of the world, China seems in a position to recover the initiative. The industry is recovering and the government seems to want to take the time to expand its softpower with the export and donation of medical supplies and the eventual discovery of a vaccine.

All we need now is to stay home...

Let us hope that in a short time all this too seems to have been an eternity ago. To work. As always, to work, with resilience, creativity and joy. I wish you good health, please wash your hands and follow the recommendations of the health authorities.

Carlos Alves de Sousa
President of United Photo Press