China’s Zero Covid policy and Shanghai’s subsequent lockdown due an Omicron flare-up in the city have been disruptive to say the least. Its impact has rippled far beyond the country’s borders, but Shanghai’s residents have bore the brunt of the consequences. In the face of these tribulations, one unexpectedly positive development has been the strengthening of communal bonds in the city. Neighbors who were once strangers have come together to help secure food for one another and countless volunteers have stepped up to help their respective communities. This sense of solidarity was the similar impetus for Stay Negative, a newly launched project looking to leverage the power of creativity for the greater good during Shanghai’s citywide lockdown.
不得不说，中国在疫情清零政策和上海奥密克戎爆发下实施的封锁，带来了颠覆性的影响，波及全国和境外。这段日子，上海居民首当其冲。在这个艰难动荡的时刻，一些出乎意料的积极变化加强了这座城市里人和人之间的纽带。原本素不相识的邻居团结起来，帮助彼此获取食物，志愿者挺身而出，为各自的社区尽力而为。在这股精神的影响下，Stay Negative 艺术项目诞生——旨在借助创意力量，为封控下的上海加油打气。
The project is founded by five China-based creatives—Alessandro Pavanello, who oversees social media operations; Vittorio Sileo, who specializes in NFTs and marketing; joining them are two designers and a public relations expert who’ve chosen to remain anonymous. To them, this project is a way to give back to the place they proudly call home.
In April, when Shanghai’s lockdown measures began ramping up, the severity of the situation began to set in. However, the team realized they were the fortunate ones when compared with the plights many other locals faced. Pavanello himself spent time in a quarantine center after testing positive in late March, and the conditions there gave him further perspective on how important it was to keep a positive mindset—this became one of the driving philosophies for the entire project. “As a team, we all share the same values and firmly believe that positivity can drive a change and achieve more than negativity,” says Pavanello. “Humor and a smile are magic ingredients that foster inclusivity and can bring people together.”
该项目由五位现居中国的创意人成立，他们分别是负责社交媒体运营的 Alessandro Pavanello、负责 NFT 和营销工作的 Vittorio Sileo，以及两位匿名设计师和一位公关专家。团队希望将该项目献给这个引以为傲的家园。
3 月底，上海收紧封控措施时，人们这才开始逐渐意识到情况的严重性。和许多当地人面临的困境相比，团队的经历还算幸运。Alessandro 本人在三月下旬检测阳性后被送往方舱，期间他更加意识到，保持积极心态的重要性，而这也是推动整个项目的理念之一。Alessandro 说：“作为团队，我们有着相同的价值观。我们相信，比起消极的想法，积极的心态更能带来改变，也更有意义。幽默和微笑有时具有的神奇的力量，可以凝聚人心。”
Despite knowing there was only so much they can do within the confines of their homes, the team knew they needed to contribute to the fight. The project initially sought to raise funds for charity through selling T-shirts, but the logistic complexities that arose from the stringent lockdown hamstrung the idea. This led them to look towards Web3, where NFTs seemed like an ideal medium to distribute their art and raise funds. “We believe that apathy never really made an impact on anyone’s life,” says Sileo. “Having a positive and proactive approach, even during tough times, can indeed make a difference, and that’s what we are trying to achieve as a team.”
隔离在家，很多事情心有余而力不足，但团队确信地想要为这场抗疫出一份力。最初，项目试图通过销售T恤衫的方式筹集善款，但严格的封锁措施导致物流受阻，后来不了了之。于是他们转向了 Web3 领域，这当中，NFT 似乎是传播艺术作品和筹集资金的理想媒介。Vittorio 表示：“我们相信，冷漠对人们的生活无济于事，而保持积极心态让人在困难时期也会有所作为，这正是我们团队想要努力传递的信息。”
Without context, some of the artworks from the project can seem completely absurd, but they’re all based on real happenings within the city—more specifically, riffing off of some of the most viral videos that have been posted since the lockdowns began. In one, a fish is seen dangling from a drone, a reference to a video of someone fishing from the confines of their high-rise apartment with a consumer-grade UAV. In another, a robot dog references a widely circulated video of a four-legged machine patrolling an apartment complex as a megaphone on its back broadcasts a pre-recorded message urging residents to stay indoors.
Mundane moments are equally given a spotlight in the project though. Some illustrations feature sights that’ve become all too familiar for Shanghai locals in the past month, such as the rapid antigen test kits that are self-administered every few days, the men in white hazmat suits disinfecting the streets, or the groups of volunteers in blue surgical gowns collecting the group-buy deliveries for their apartment complexes.
Compared with some of the most popular NFT projects out there, the team decided on a more pared-down aesthetic. A busier composition can be too distracting for their purposes. Simple details such as the blue markings on the otherwise all-white hazmat suits of city workers, a splash of red on the vest of a community-level officials, or the distinctive yellow of cordon tape are the only pops of color within each frame. Against the plain gray backgrounds, each illustration is given plenty of room to breath within the frame. The project shows that when it comes to NFT art, simplicity can still be a virtue.
不同于许多热门 NFT 项目，团队决定采用极简风来进行创作，他们认为复杂的构图会过于分散观众的注意力。项目的作品中，画面中只保留一些单色来突出细节，如大白身上的蓝条、抗原试剂上的红色标记、警戒带上醒目的黄色等等。同时保留了底片上灰色的留白。这也表明，极简风格在 NFT 领域同样能引起人们的注意。
Shanghai’s residents have demonstrated a laudable resilience and patience since early April until now, and these artworks capture the fortitude and levity that have been essential for getting through the lockdown. Despite the obvious drawbacks and plethora of issues that’ve arose from the current Covid strategy, there are perhaps lasting benefits that can be reaped once the city opens back up. “We believe that this lockdown will make us stronger as human and as a collective, and the sharing of such an incredibly intense experience will inevitably change the dynamic within the community and people,” says one of the anonymous artists behind the project. “We’re not saying that we will have weekly dinner with the neighbors, but we’re pretty sure that we will smile more and be more willing to help each other in moments of need.”
Proceeds from the Stay Negative NFT series will go to an organization helping homeless people impacted by the lockdown. You can learn more about the series and its mission by visiting the official website.
从 3 月底到现在，上海居民表现出令人称赞的韧性和耐心，而这些画作也捕捉苦难时期下的坚强与幽默。尽管当前疫情政策仍存诸多问题，但当这座城市重新开放，这次的经历或许会留下许多供后人借鉴的经验和思考。“我们相信，这次封城将使我们更加强大，共同度过如此不平凡的时刻一定会在某种程度上改变社区和人群之间的关系，”参与项目的一位匿名艺术家说道，“并不是说我们以后就会每周与邻居共进晚餐，但可以肯定，我们以后会对彼此有更多笑容，在有需要的时候会更乐于帮助对方。”
Stay Negative NFT 系列的盈利将捐赠给那些为疫情时期无家可归者提供帮助的机构。您可以通过访问项目的官方网站来了解更多信息。
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li