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

Meditations in the Room

By Kate Gough

Ikenaga Yasunari

I am in a room
in a bed.
I am here often,
but rarely is it talked about on the news.

The abled are watching,
tweeting like birds
and fighting like racoons
over spare bread and soft paper.
They do not think about their bodies often.
Automaton whirring until a fly creeps in,
that is when the machine stops.
It rarely stops.
These are the days they stop
to think about flesh and bone.
These are the days they call their mothers
over the phone.

I am in a room
in a bed.
I am here often,
but rarely is it talked about on the news.

These days, there is more to lose.
A quiet quarantine
in a self-isolated submarine,
deeper and deeper, in between
anxiety and apathy,
they say I’m being selfish
for madness in a time of need.

Panic, they say it’s the worst time.
All the panic before was just practice,
obsessive compulsive sadness.
I am spiralling,
but it’s a bad time.
So I swallow,
I am fine
until I am hollow.

A quiet quarantine
in a self-isolated submarine.
The world doesn’t need more sickness.
The world doesn’t need…


Artwork by Ikenaga Yasunari


By Jane Ayres

she’s losing her mind
they say
as if it’s like mislaying an odd sock
or a favourite dress

but it isn’t lost
just working differently
dismembered patterns
fractured sequences
glittering constellations

I’m still here, you know



Artwork by Isha Joy, “Untitled” (@ishajoyart)

“The Last Word” & Others by Jamie Bradbury

This work is an introspective examination, it explores themes of love, loss, mental health, isolation / connectedness, and healing, through the passage of time. Using both classical, and culturally specific tropes, such as skulls, along with Mummers, these works attempt to reveal anagnorisis, or a moment of startling discovery, leading to a form of personal resolution.

Fidelis Ad Mortem
18″x24″ Watercolour on Arches paper, 2018
She Moved Through the Fair
18″x24″ Watercolour on Arches paper, 2019
The Last Word
10″x14″ Watercolour on Arches paper, 2019
Unknown Pleasures
18″x24″ Watercolour on Arches paper, 2019

Jamie Bradbury has worked in drawing and painting for the past 15 years. Originally from Toronto, Canada, and based in Nemaska, Quebec, he Studied Painting at OCADU University, and obtained a Master’s degree from Central Saint Martins in London U.K, in 2010. 

His works explore identity, situating auto-biographical narratives, within collective histories. Blending both personal and found source material together, he attempts to complicate where the personal begins, and the collective ends. Drawing from his experiences of living semi-nomadically, exploring both his Jamaican, and Newfoundland ancestral traditions, Jamies’ work often reveals an ongoing interest in cultural adaptation, malaise, and exchange.

Washington Square Park

Adella wondered if it was getting bad again. She had read a poem recently that called identity a “wet shirt” you had to pull over your head every morning. Yesterday, it rained in New York. She lost her umbrella in a café. After walking home, she peeled off her wet clothes slowly, and shivered. Her skin felt cold. Adella was tired. So tired. They say that the first thing you should check is the fundamentals: are you sleeping regularly and enough? Are you having solid, healthy meals three times a day? Are you moving? Instead, Adella thought about the last time she had hugged someone.

On Friday, Adella went to get ramen with Usha, her roommate. The sun was out and they talked about wanting it to stay, to wipe the city clean and keep them warm enough to forget about layering. On the way to the restaurant, they passed Washington Square and decided to weave through the park to look at the pinkening sky and to feel people around them, relaxed and drunk on good weather. Adella thought it could be contagious. She could catch a good mood, cup it in her palms like a firefly, and make it stay. She wanted it to congest her lungs, stuff up her breathing, dwarf her thoughts like the pain of a migraine. Adella asked the spring to consume her.

They stopped at a booth by the fountain where you could read handwritten stories about strangers, talking about their lives in New York City. Over an old white lady’s shoulder , Adella read about someone’s rape. On the next sheet, someone had written that they were about to move to Paris for a girl. He didn’t even speak French but she was ecstatic, and “that’s all there is.”

Behind the booth, a couple was sitting on the ground playing music. They looked at each other often, smiling intermittently, their heads softly nodding to the beat. A large circular case lay open in front of them, with a shallow pool of coins at the bottom. Adella broke from the crowd and walked over to them. She secretly loved steel pan music. It sounded like rain, like light itself was raining, falling in cascading, polyrhythmic drops. It made Adella want to be in love. She was a little bit in love already, but being in love, as many know, is not enough on its own, like making a stew with only one ingredient.

The musician couple grinned at the crowd, and the man yelled:

“We’re just trying to pay for our brunch tomorrow!”

His hand broke from the melody to point towards the case with money.

“We’re not homeless or anything. Just trying to enjoy ourselves!”

Their palms fell gently on the pans, and Adella’s face craned up to look at the last gaps of light between the leaves, before night came.

There is a French film called Blue is the Warmest Color where the protagonist experiences a coup de foudre, a lightning bolt or love at first sight, on the street, while steel pans play in the background. As the two girls cross the street and look at each other, the rain of light from the drums pitches upwards, falling heavier but the sounds themselves thinning into smaller pinpricks. The sun is out. In an earlier scene of the movie, the protagonist sits in a French literature class. The professor asks the students, when you see someone, in a moment of coup de foudre, is there something less or more in your heart? Have you gained something or have you lost something? Adella thought about this question a lot. She had seen the film several times now.

The next day it rained again in New York, an irritating, indecisive drizzle. In her room, Adella found another poem on her Twitter feed. It talked about a study where baby monkeys “were given a choice/between a wire mother with milk/& a wool mother with none” and in the end, they chose “to starve & hold the soft body.” Adella took off her clothes, dampened, and waited for her limbs to warm up.

Image from the film “Blue is the Warmest Color”, dir. by Abdellatif Kechiche

Idle Mass

Sit still enough and your demons will find you,
Keep your shadow moving else they shelter in your shade,
Avoiding the shine of the sun else they burst into flames,
Climb the ladder of your spine, lay in the hammock of your collarbone,
Whisper in your ear all you wish not to hear,
Don’t rest too long for they flutter to your seat,
Bask in your warmth to leave you cold,
Keep moving else your fragrance concentrates the space which they flock to,
Like sheep, like lions, for they feed on vigor for life,
There are those who gather to pray for you,
And those who prey on you,
Sit still enough and your demons will find you,

Behind you.

Artwork by Linda Vachon

Sweet Tooth

Ariane Monds is a multidisciplinary visual artist who explores themes of physical and mental health.