Student Mental Health during the Pandemic – Pitstop 3: Interview With Ms. Malvika PC


Let us meet Malavika PC, a visual artist and performer based in Pondicherry.  

What is your lockdown experience?

Not to be indifferent to the problems of the world but I have been living quite the hidden life. Even when I go out and interact with others, I come back and I take refuge in my studio. 

My parents live in Hyderabad. I am unable to go and help them at their time of need. This is a problem.

What do you think are the disadvantages of lockdown?

People are going through a tough time with respect to mental health breakdowns, physical ability to cope with things. I am not in their shoes and I don’t know what I should be doing for them. Even if I have the time I can’t go outside and talk to others. It worries me that so many people are suffering.

Many are losing jobs. I have been in similar situations before. When people come and share this with me, I am in a position to respond to them because I have been in challenging situations over the past 15 years. I can make them look at the situation in a positive manner which could be a consolation for some. 

Lockdown forces us to sit in one place. But when we are forced to sit still like we are in this lockdown, it makes us resent such a resting period. It is hard to sit in one place. Being an artist, I realized only when we sit in one place, and not clutter our list with ninety other things, can we focus and get something out of that experience. 

 It’s not that one can’t be productive being a multitasker. However, there is a beauty to sitting and taking it as it comes, and face that little by little. 

It is tough for most people to be in their own company. The lockdown brings us all to face this situation concerning this aspect. I know a lot of friends and family who are having a hard time. However, when we are forced to be in our own company and face our daily ups and downs so very closely, we are pushed to find creative ways to deal with them. 

What is your perspective on art?

Art keeps things alive. I wouldn’t call art as hope. 

Our eyes and ears are constantly giving attention to something. Art gives us the feeling that somebody has been pursuing the things that you or I couldn’t think of and that has beauty in it. That beauty touches us. 

Art is motivated from within artists themselves. It is a personal act sourced from individuals. 

However, an artist needs a community and is part of that community. The power of art is your heart skipping a beat when you encounter it. It is our intuitive pacemaker. 

Strangely art comes out of a place of madness and it gives people sanity. 

I say such a line with full faith in the responses to my artwork before and during this lockdown, from its audience.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of online workshops?

Internet classes have been happening for a long time. That is the reason we were able to quickly adapt to it right after lockdown. 

Most of the online classes and workshops happen for children and students who have a reasonable amount of internet access. This in itself is a privilege as there are many children and students for whom the situation is not quite lucky.  

What is your advice to children?

Children are doing the best they can. They are very sensitive and are more capable of gathering themselves. 

As long as they are happy and they are allowed to make their art without the fear of perfection I am happy. 

What are your perceptions about art in the post-lockdown world? 

I am concerned about the fate of art and artists post lockdown as much of it is still in the unknown. My life would not be easier if I had a different career path. Making art and being an artist is of my choosing. It is my calling. It saves me and gives me purpose wherever I am. It makes my heart skip a beat.

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