After Decameron

Spring 1349. The Black Death ravages the city of Florence, killing thousands of people and leaving an apocalyptic atmosphere. Ten young Florentines decide to take refuge in a secluded villa in the countryside, amusing themselves by each telling a story a day for the ten days they are destined to remain there – these hundred stories compose Il Decamerone by Italian author Giovanni Boccaccio.

The self-quarantined group not only tells stories to pass the time but believes that these stories have a healing power. In the fourteenth century, they were convinced that in times of danger and calamity, positive thoughts and narratives could help combat any illness.

In our current time where self-isolation and quarantine are omnipresent, perhaps storytelling can once again offer positive healing power? Open Space invites artists, curators and writers to contribute short stories, poems, thoughts, memories… to create our contemporary After Decameron together. Each contributor will build on the story, taking an element of inspiration from their predecessor’s piece of writing.

We are hoping that this writing experiment will be a positive distraction in troubling times.

© Louise Ashcroft, Another way to read: used copy of ‘A Land’ by archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes bought on route and repurposed as stepping stones to cross muddy Leyton marshes, 2020.