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Laura Aragó and Jaime V. Aroca: El confinado medio en España: setenta metros y dos personas (Mean Occupancy Density in Spain: Seventy Metres and Two People), published in La Vanguardia (March 2020).

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Corona & Chill

Author: Iñigo Berriozabal

“You must have seen it. You know, that film… where it’s the same day over and over again! (…) I remember  saying ‘it’s just like that”… That’s it, that’s what’s happening here, every day is the same”.

Day 38 of lockdown. In Spain, the state of alarm has been extended to 9 May 2020. They haven’t been able to make any exceptions for good behaviour, not even for characters like Saray Vargas from the Vis a Vis series on Spanish TV, sentenced to 4 years for armed robbery. And these days, even though we haven’t got a plan tattooed on our chest yet, like Michael Scofield (Prison Break, 2005), many of us feel just as imprisoned as those denizens of fictional prisons.

Like Piper Chapman (Orange is the New Black, 2013), the whole world has “voluntarily gone to jail” for a crime committed a long time ago. And we’re serving our time in an environment that may become more hostile than it seemed: the prison of our own home. In Spanish cities, we have an average 70 m2 of cell space for every two people,1 In other countries, like the Netherlands, the average is 65 m2, decreasing to 49 m2 in capital cities like Amsterdam. For the inmates of Litchfield Federal Penitentiary that would be luxury, but for us, in our freedom, the space delimited by our four walls still seems too small.

Living in lockdown poses numerous challenges in our daily routines and invites us to think more deeply about our dwelling spaces. Reconciling personal or family dynamics with work and social life in one single shared space without jeopardising our mental health is a very complex problem, which we try to find solutions to in our homes by turning living rooms into classrooms, kitchens into nurseries, terraces into gyms and closets into offices.

Technology allows us to download the latest memo from the office server, videochat with Grandma or watch the latest episode of La Casa de Papel from the comfort of home; but doing all those things simultaneously in the same room can give us a splitting headache (and also overload the internet).

If we want to survive our domestic chaos, it’s now time, more than ever before, to make the functions of each room more flexible, while establishing and observing strict timetables worthy of the most efficient prison. Our windows will be our bars; our balconies, our recreation yards; our masks and gloves, our prison uniforms; and our visits to our house in the country will be our escape bids.

We must show solidarity and maintain discipline, even when we’re granted parole. We should go out to the supermarket only when it’s allowed, observe the social distancing rules in our contact with other people and strictly comply with the instructions the prison authorities give us. And even though the name of that film escapes us, when life behind bars gets too tough let’s just remember that we’re not alone: we still have Michael Scofield.

 

Iñigo Berriozabal. May 2020


Cover Image: Autor_suksao Freepik

Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor
Notas de página
1

Laura Aragó and Jaime V. Aroca: El confinado medio en España: setenta metros y dos personas (Mean Occupancy Density in Spain: Seventy Metres and Two People), published in La Vanguardia (March 2020).

2

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