Denmark reopens schools as experts advise caution globally; IMF warns of second Great Depression; Racing to develop a drug to fight COVID-19

Denmark reopens schools as experts advise caution globally; IMF warns of second Great Depression; Racing to develop a drug to fight COVID-19

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The World staff

Parents with their children stand in a line waiting to get inside Stengaard School following the coronavirus outbreak north of Copenhagen, Denmark, April 15, 2020.

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Credit: Ritzau Scanpix/Bo Amstrup/via Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Denmark’s youngsters are returning to schools this week. The country was among the first in Europe to set restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus and has been praised for its swift action. But critics warn that reopening schools is a risky strategy, and some parents refuse to let their children be “guinea pigs.” 

US President Donald Trump intends to announce plans Thursday to reopen the American economy. But public health officials and the business leaders the Trump administration haphazardly assembled into advisory groups say that testing in the US is nowhere near the capacity needed to allow people to safely return to work. 

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced some lockdown rollbacks, but urged “extreme caution.” Merkel, who has a doctorate in physics, was also able to clearly explain how the disease transmission works, highlighting the value of politicians who understand science when creating policy. 

From The World: Madeleine Albright: ‘Globalization is not a four-letter word’

And: COVID-19: Making sense of all the numbers

IMF warns of second Great Depression

The International Monetary Fund warned the global economy could contract by 3% this year and $9 trillion in output could be lost over two years, according to the organization’s 2020 World Economic Outlook, issued this week. Some experts speculate it’s the end of the world economy as we know it

Economists estimate that China, the world’s second-largest economy, may have shrunk by 6% in the first quarter. It would be the first quarterly economic contraction for the country since records began. Manufacturers slowly reopening are going to extreme lengths to fend off a resurgence of the virus.   

And: California is giving 150,000 undocumented adults $500 each

Also: Japan’s Abe to give blanket cash handouts in coronavirus

Millions of South Korean voters head to the polls amid COVID-19 pandemic

After winning praise from across the globe for mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus, South Korea has held parliamentary elections despite concerns that rolling back distancing and quarantine measures could expose voters to the disease.

On Wednesday, at least 29 million South Koreans lined up at polling places to cast ballots for the 300-seat National Assembly — a vote that was widely seen as a measure of public support for the government’s response to the pandemic.

Every 30 Seconds: Young Latino voters in Seattle view November election through lens of pandemic

Racing to develop a drug to fight COVID-19

Doctors in China and the US have transfused antibodies from recovered patients directly into the blood of people with severe cases of COVID-19. Dr. Mario Ostrowski and his collaborators want to identify the genes that encode these antibodies and use them to mass produce lab-grown versions — to turn into a drug to treat the infection.

And: India hospital segregates Muslim and Hindu coronavirus patients

A history of the drug that conquered the world

With little evidence, US President Donald Trump has touted chloroquine’s potential for treating the novel coronavirus, and the clamor for the drug has alarmed leading scientists. But the race for chloroquine is far from new. This remedy and its natural derivative, the cinchona plant, have defined world powers and symbolized hope for cures to destructive diseases for centuries.

And: How an anti-malarial drug has become a tool of India’s diplomacy

In a new MoMA audio guide, security guards are the art experts

Museum of Modern Art security guards pose outside the museum with artist Chemi Rosado-Seijo, far right, creator of an audio guide where the guards explain their favorite works of art.

Credit:

Catalyst Program, The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewall.com. © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Museum visitors usually don’t acknowledge security guards. But they’re often incredibly knowledgable about the art they keep watch over — and may even be artists themselves. A new MoMA audio guide puts the guards front and center. In a series of 20 audio essays, the guards each choose a piece of art and speak about it.

You can listen online even though the museum is closed as part of countrywide stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Morning meme

Conservationists in Vietnam recently got some good news: A species feared extinct, the Vietnamese silver-backed mouse-deer, was documented for the first time in nearly 30 years.

The silver-backed chevrotain lives in the scrubby forests of Vietnam’s coast. These animals, also known as mouse-deer, are the world’s smallest ungulates, or hooved animals. This photo is the first documentation of its existence in nearly 30 years.

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Courtesy of SIE/GWC / Leibniz-IZW/NCNP

In case you missed it:Listen: Outcry over Trump’s WHO funding cut order

US President Donald Trump addresses the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, April 14, 2020.

Credit:

Leah Millis/Reuters

President‌ ‌Donald Trump‌ ‌says‌ ‌he’s‌ ‌halting‌ ‌funding‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌World‌ ‌Health‌ ‌Organization‌ ‌pending‌ ‌a‌ ‌review.‌ ‌How‌ would the funding ‌cut ‌affect‌ ‌the‌ ‌WHO’s‌ ‌work‌? And, there’s a global backlash against Trump’s WHO announcement, especially in places where the organization is vital like in Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are not only dealing with COVID-19 but also Ebola. Also, a priest in Vancouver, Canada, has a social distancing solution for confessionals for his congregation: a drive-through option.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

In a new MoMA audio guide, security guards are the art experts

In a new MoMA audio guide, security guards are the art experts

Museum visitors usually don't acknowledge security guards. But they're often incredibly knowledgable about the art they keep watch over — and may even be artists themselves. A new MoMA audio guide puts the guards front and center.

By
Sarah Birnbaum

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Museum of Modern Art security guards pose outside the museum with artist Chemi Rosado-Seijo, far right, creator of an audio guide where the guards explain their favorite works of art.

Credit:

Catalyst Program, The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewall.com. © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

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Kevin Reid typically spends eight hours per day in uniform, five days per week, standing in the galleries at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, keeping watch over the art.

Sometimes people ask him where to find the bathroom. But more often, they barely acknowledge him. It’s part of being a security guard, he said. 

“Most people just come in here, ask us a question and just go,” he said. “You feel invisible.”

Visitors may not consider how those guards are often incredibly knowledgable about the art — and may even be artists themselves. In a new audio guide series for the museum called “Beyond the Uniform,” artist Chemi Rosado-Seijo turns the spotlight on Reid and nine other MoMA security guards. In a series of 20 audio essays, the guards each choose a piece of art and speak about it. 

You can listen online even though the museum is closed as part of countrywide stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Related: 5 museums offering virtual art while you’re quarantined

Rosado-Seijo works in a field known as social practice, which is equal parts art and community activism. His projects usually feature marginalized communities.  

When the museum’s education department asked him to come up with a project for MoMA, he said that he knew he wanted to work with security guards. 

“Most of the guards are black or brown, as they call us. Puerto Ricans or Colombians or Dominicans,” he said. “They are the people who maintain or keep the structure of the museum together, but you’re not supposed to see them, in a way.” 

And they don’t usually get asked about the art, even though they’re the ones who are living with it. 

“A lot of the guards are artists themselves, too, and that’s a big reason why they work here.”

Chemi Rosado-Seijo, creator, Beyond the Uniform

“A lot of the guards are artists themselves, too, and that’s a big reason why they work here,” he said.

Reid is a recording artist. He goes by the name LuxuReid and estimates he’s written more than 100 songs. He said the job at the MoMA was “an opportunity to be around art. And expand my horizons.”

In the audio guide, security guard Kevin Reid explains his favorite work of art in the museum: “Untitled (policeman)” by Kerry James Marshall. 

Credit:

Catalyst Program, The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewall.com. © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Reid even composed a rap for the audio guide. “Mr. Invisible doesn’t make sense to you, he raps. “People look through you but don’t see what’s in you.”

He was inspired by a 2015 painting called “Untitled (policeman)” by the African American artist Kerry James Marshall, which he also discusses in the guide. It’s a monumental portrait of a black police officer in uniform, sitting on the hood of his cruiser, staring off to the side. 

“It’s a very provocative piece. … It connects so much. Black Lives Matter. The senseless police shootings, injustice, prejudice. African Americans in the police force as well. It’s a lot to take in.”

Kevin Reid, MoMA security guard and recording artist

“It’s a very provocative piece,” Reid says of the artwork. “It connects so much. Black Lives Matter. The senseless police shootings, injustice, prejudice. African Americans in the police force as well. It’s a lot to take in.” 

Security guards’ contributions to the audio guide run the gamut. Joseph Tramantano, an actor, drummer and horror fan, discusses film stills from the 1931 version of “Frankenstein.” Eva Luisa Rodríguez does a spoken word performance in front of Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Cropped Hair.” José Colon draws parallels between graffiti art and early 20th-century Italian sculpture.

Rabbila Konock explains that Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” which the artist painted during a stay in an asylum in the French countryside, reminds her of home. The night sky is roiling with swirling patterns. The stars, moon and planets glow in circles of yellow and white light. A sleepy little village lies beneath a turbulent sky.

In the audio guide, security guard Rabbila Konock explains how Vincent van Gogh’s famous painting, “Starry Night,” reminds her of her village in Bangladesh.

Credit:

Catalyst Program, The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewall.com. © 2020 The Museum of Modern Art, New York

“I am originally from Bangladesh. My village is similar to this painting,” she chuckles as she explains on the guide. “The night is more alive than the day. I believe he created [this painting] in early morning, before [sunrise]. So sometimes when I have to decide something, I wake up that time, I look outside from the window and [think].” 

Chemi Rosado-Seijo hopes this audio project will be empowering to anyone who listens — especially if they aren’t art experts. 

“I expect people will say, ‘Oh, the guards are talking about the artworks. I can talk about the artworks’.”

Chemi Rosado-Seijo, creator, Beyond the Uniform

“I expect people will say, ‘Oh, the guards are talking about the artworks. I can talk about the artworks’,” he said.

He says all too often, people will start talking about art and then censor themselves. They’ll say stuff like, “’I don’t know art! I shouldn’t be talking about it!”’ Rosado-Seijo said.  

But he insists that art doesn’t have to be so intellectual and rarefied: “Your perspective is valid.” 

Beyond the Uniform was conceived before the coronavirus outbreak and museum closure. Ideally, the listener would hear the audio while visiting the museum and standing in front of the works. 

But Rosado-Seijo sees a silver lining. 

“I actually don’t think [the coronavirus] changes the project at all,” he said. “If anything, it makes the message more urgent.”