Hands Face Space

Video by Nina Kümin

Baroque/ folk fusion improvisation re-imagining the commonly distributed government safety plea: “hands, face, space”.

Hands Face Space Improvisation.mp4


We hear Nina Kümin playing the violin.

On screen we see “HANDS FACE SPACE” handwritten on paper, with a miniature violin, a drawing of someone dreaming and glittery stickers in their dream cloud. Underneath there is a mobile phone displaying a picture of a church with a blue sky behind it. At the bottom, it says “Baroque/folk fusion improvisation for period instrument”, and it is signed “Nina Kümin”.


Created during the second COVID lockdown in 2020, this concept improvisation seeks to creatively re-imagine the commonly distributed government safety plea: “hands, face, space”. The choice of improvisation rather than notated music reflects the fleeting and ever-changing nature of guidance during this time and the forced focus on the present moment. Asking for a period instrument and for the improvisation to be in a baroque/ folk fusion style seeks to evoke the frequent nostalgia and desire to leave our screens and go back to nature felt by many, for a momentary escape into an earlier non-digital world. A solo instrument allows for maximum individuality in improvisation as well as calling to mind the enforced isolation of this time.

The collage stimulus provided as a score visualises my re-imagining of the phrase ‘hands, face, space’. While worried about the damage our hands, face and lack of space can do, this positive spin encourages the performer to look at their hands as the facilitators of beauty, their face as a site of imagination and creativity and their use of space as inspirational. Throughout this period our conceptions of space have shifted dramatically. The juxtaposition of the pastoral scene displayed as a photo on a phone shows the collapse of our available spaces, the distance from community and our ever-increasing reliance on technology for our connections. Yet this scene also shows the beauty of the everyday on our doorsteps, the resilience and support of health services. The combination of artistic techniques calls to attention the importance of the arts for providing creative outlooks not only for entertainment but also for solutions.

Through musing on the past and improvising on the present, this music encourages performers and listeners to respond to the global crisis in an extremely personal way, creatively seeking ways to understand our changing emotional reactions and to move forward exploring creative solutions through re-imagining what surrounds us.