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Under a Pandemic Sky [Thomas Pickarski, USA, 2020]

Multiple shots of empty, wet streets; water pouring from drains and gutters; waves crashing against rocks, and trees towering into the endless firmament. Thus proceeds Thomas Pickarski’s art film, Under a Pandemic Sky, a video essay produced in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. One of the more original efforts on offer to stem from the mire of Covid-reactive visual excursions, Pickarski’s film is a playful and welcoming invitation into his world away from global turmoil.

The images and narration are incongruous and, in many ways, this separation produces a calming rather than distracting effect. Of the two elements, the storytelling, ironically, provides the more tangible quality to the film, the narrator’s gentle and cordial tone providing comfort and assuredness against the visual backdrop of wet and cold desolation, possessing a similar feeling to a tale being told around a winter campfire.

Self-consciously intellectual in its abstract vigour, the film is an experiment with time and space – the open, predominantly vacant spaces allowing for wandering ruminations, as if time were of no consequence. Other recent shorts have examined the narrative form in similarly abstract fashion, such as Pamela Woolford’s Generation [USA, 2018], or Knitting and Walking [Brenda Miller, UK, 2018], where time and memory are secondary to the act of creation.

At times poetic and other times prosaic, the film consistently remains good-spirited throughout, and occupies an optimistic space, reminding us with an historic fondness of a happier time, and for a hopeful return to such an occasion.


‘Under a Pandemic Sky’ was a film for consideration for Short Focus Film Festival 2020.


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