Major League Baseball’s opening day games would have been played during the peak of the first wave of COVID-19. This multimedia presentation was published on the day of the Detroit Tigers’ scheduled home opener – March 30 – the same week Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order that shut down much of the state.
As the coronavirus pandemic became established in the United States, Americans had to let go of familiarity and embrace a new normalcy, dystopian, the moment in time when everything stopped.
During WWII, Americans filled factories to make materials for war. The spirit behind this Arsenal of Democracy shines anew as Americans support the fight against COVID-19, an arsenal of determination. Public domain films from Prelinger Archives were used to build this video’s entire narrative structure.
As spring arrived amid the coronavirus pandemic, our pace of life slowed as nature sped ahead. Michigan bloomed as COVID-19 took its toll. This multimedia project, a collaboration between the Detroit Free Press and Kresge Arts in Detroit, is intended to reflect that dichotomy. Brian Kaufman made photographs that provided inspiration for Kresge Artist Fellows to respond in poetry. For the project’s video component, Kaufman collaborated with Gilda Award recipient Aiko Fukuchi and Italian guitarist / composer Stefano Barone. Filmed and photographed throughout Michigan over the course of three months, the project published on the first day of summer.
Detroit Free Press investigative reporters worked for months to uncover the identities of Michigan’s first victims of COVID-19. Earliest Heartbreak is a testament to the lives we lost as well as government missteps along the way. Over 100 interviews with family members of the deceased were conducted. From those, 20 recounted the lives of their loved ones in-depth during the early days of the outbreak. Because of the ongoing nature of the pandemic, these conversations were conducted and recorded by phone. Each family supplied a single portrait of their loved one. Combined, their voices speak as one and their images remind us of the breadth of humanity taken by the virus.