colorless campus

NYU Abu Dhabi is one of the few university campuses in the world that is still operating. Many students and staff still remain on campus, while struggling to stay safe, retain a sense of community and safeguard both individual and community health. Both the editors of this magazine are part of this community. The following images document, subtly, the emotional and psychological impacts on young students whose lives have been interrupted by the looming virus, as the numbers of cases climb daily by the hundreds. NYUAD is also one of the most diverse campuses in the world; travel restrictions and other realities created by the pandemic, affect various students to different extents. What unites us is the common experience of uncertainty and that we are all somehow still in this space, together.

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“I check reported cases daily. I have tabs full of articles open, I know all these facts. I was just reading these diaries from Wuhan before you came over. “
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“I stayed up watching anime for six hours”
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“It’s my last one – fuck it.”  (shot over Zoom)
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“My family’s in Jordan. They’re okay. But a lot of people back home rely on daily wages so the lockdown really affects them. I had never really thought about that before. It makes me feel so bad.”
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“They cancelled my flight back home. I don’t know where I’m going to be, really.”
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“I look outside to see who’s not wearing a mask.”
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The big questions on our minds: is it going to come to campus? What will happen to the borders?
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“I’ve been drinking instant coffee every day five minutes after waking up for a zoom class.” “You need to stop doing that, that’s sad.”
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“I literally played Subway Surfers for two hours straight. Nothing else! This is terrible. My work!”
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My thesis project is all about migration, movement, And suddenly, the whole world’s stopped moving. 
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“I’m just going for a smoke with my dinner. This is the highlight of my day.”
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“My immune system is crap. I can’t take a single risk.”
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“I’m good. I stay inside watching movies on my ceiling.”
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There’s something really comforting about laundry machines. The soft, rhythmic whirr, the promise of warm, clean sheets. To help me sleep at night, I listen to a sleepcast on the Headspace app, called  Midnight Laundry.
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“There’s a big sticky note on my doorknob saying BARBIJO. It means mask in Spanish, so that I never forget.”
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My photography professor asked me: why the fixation with black and white? But that’s how everything feels rights now, I told her. Colorless.
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It’s funny how the whole world suddenly understands this feeling of being cramped up and staying in bed and having life reduced down to the smallest tasks, like washing your hair. Everyone’s just trying to manage and do the bare minimum. It’s like all of a sudden they understand a lifestyle that I’ve known for so long. Having depression interrupted so many things for me before; it’s almost like I feel prepared for this. The difference is now more people understand.
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I bought an orchid plant at the beginning of senior year and named her Lizzo. She just started blooming again. Sometimes, that fact of her unfurling, again, is the only thing that manages to cut through the fog in my head.
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My parents are everything to me. They urged me to come here. I just wanted them to be here when I graduated. I wanted to see the pride and happiness on their faces, and take pictures under the palm trees in my gown and cap.
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“Theater students have had to take their capstone projects online. We can’t perform them. I’m full of loss and questions.”
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I guess life is monotonous. I don’t do much.
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We ended a while ago. It’s been months. I don’t know why every morning, after scrolling over updates for the UAE, I still check the number of cases where he lives.
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My dad sends me daily GIFs on messenger, usually of animals or cartoons doing weird dances. I forward them to my roommate and we get a good laugh. 
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I’ve started deep listening to albums, and making mini themed playlists. I made a space-themed playlist inspired by my astronomy class. It’s called “moonshine”
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One of the highlights of my day is seeing Ravi in the dining hall, one of the cashiers there. We both speak Hindi. He always asks me how I am, always smiles and offers a joke or two. 
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Every day I wonder why there are still so many construction workers on-site.
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“Oh yeah, everyone’s doing these now.”
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As a senior, I wish we had known exactly, that that was gonna be the last time we’d be in a classroom together.
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“That book is hot. I would have sex with that book.”
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Before lockdown began, I rushed out to buy a yoga mat. I started doing fitness classes on Zoom about a week or so in,  because I noticed my body hurt all the time. I realized I was always crouching, and when I slept I curled up rigidly into a fetus position, putting strain on my neck and back. My therapist says this position is something I go in because I subconsciously feel threatened or anxious. I needed to get loose.
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“I’ve been working on making this shelter but it keeps breaking into pieces.” Are you building a home? “I don’t even know.”
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“Now I get time to journal. I haven’t done that in ages.”
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“I just woke up now. But it’s good. I gotta work.”
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“The same song’s been playing for the past 45 minutes. I guess apparently I’m obsessed with it.”
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“How do you normally spend your days?” “I guess…I’m on the phone a lot.”
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“Shoes off before you enter! This is a virus-free zone.”
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“I can hear the conversations of people outside.”

 

All images taken by the author.

You can find more photography, and a continuation of this series, here

Makeup as Healing

I was always late to class because I didn’t want to show my face outside or even leave my bed. My depression and self-loathing weighed me down and I constantly felt as if I was sinking. Painting my face is incredibly symbolic for me; this form of expression brings me light and hope. When thoughts fill my mind of how ugly I am or how I can’t seem to motivate myself to get out of bed, my makeup is the only thing that I can control. Putting on makeup in creative ways brings so much joy to days that can otherwise be dreary and depressing. I’m very bad at vocalizing this feeling and I always worry that friends and professors think I’m stupid or I’m taking the piss by putting so much time into my makeup. But I try not to care about these assumptions and rather focus on working to better this art form and brightening my hard days.

 

 

 

Simone Hadebe is a senior art major at Skidmore College.

Companion

hansol choi 3

frozen in one place
roaming thoughts of lives elsewhere:
view from my window 

room teeming with life
people eat, laugh, talk at once:
my polaroid wall

need for affection
the warmth of quality time:
pet a virtual cat

 

Artwork by Hansol Choi

Summer is Not All That People Make it to Be

A summer day inside a cube can get you thinking about a square just like a weather person talks about the probability of what the weather will be tomorrow. The square has four sides. The sides of the square are made up of lines. They are colored black, and have a beginning and an end. It has 90 degree angles at each turn. They are sharp and marked in red, but it is not dangerous even though its marked in red. Also two of the four sides at the angle are black; the ones facing the black lines have a beginning and an end. The other two are red, and have a shorter beginning and an end. There are four small squares at each turn multi colored like baby tapirs born at the local zoo. The watcher calls the tapir baby a tapir baby, so the tapir baby is a tapir baby like how the squares have 90 degree angles. Maybe the weather tomorrow is 90 degrees in Celsius not in Fahrenheit. I am feeling the red sides. The tapirs are shaping out to be of one particular color that mixes with another color later on. Their coexistence is not the square. If there are extra lines inside the square, that is, if they split the multi colored squares on one end, and then again in another, the square has the capacity to give birth to many shapes. But what will become of the square. The square would be butchered. The extra lines need to be excluded by the eye. So you can see the many shapes and the original one. The giver of shapes. The weather can also be a giver of shapes. But it’s more of a feeler. splitting the weather and changing its shape is something complicated unto itself. But maybe the eye can be a giver of shapes too.

 

 

Artwork by Helio Otitica “Metaesquema”

In That House On a One-Way Street

Your eyes pay compliments to my ears,
twisted out of shape as they are, clothes hangers,
waves coat someone else’s sun,
secrets of mine overwritten with yours, eggshell walls,
a leak threatens my lower lip,
not to worry as
I can’t hear myself through the thumbtack
burying itself tenderly behind my teeth,
don’t take it the wrong way
as it’s mine to have, hold it if you like,
I notice you’ve got that face on, scarcely,
then the rug rubs against the ceiling
embarrassingly, I can’t stop staring,
no worry, I trust you’ll
be talking
as you
turn your cheek,
conscious of this wall’s and that’s eagerness
to hear all about your father’s aversion to umbrellas
and your own sporadical good luck.

 

 

Artwork by Karolina Koryl