The City is a Virus

Read the research

What would the city feel like if it were human?

(A) Artist

Siana Bangura

Writer, producer, performer

My short poetry film, ‘The City is a Virus’, was written as a means to document and archive these extraordinary times.

Every generation has its own challenges and landmark moments, and 2020 is our moment for the history books. In a matter of months, the whole world came to a ‘Great Pause’ and on top of that, we have entered a revolution triggered by the murder of George Floyd in the USA, which has had a monumental ripple effect across the globe.

My piece connects these moments and turns the idea of the city into a living, breathing being. We often hear that cities are ‘alive’, and across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic turned whole cities across the world into ghost towns. I wondered what the city would feel like if it were human, watching its inhabitants in this moment. Our cities have been sick for some time – the COVID-19 outbreak is not the only virus that has infected our societies.

I wanted to make a stark comparison between this outbreak and racism, something too many white people have ignored for their whole lives, until this second wave of Black Lives Matter protests.

I think this ‘Great Pause’ forced a reckoning and wave of self-reflection that would not have been possible before it.

Working with local Coventry-based artists Chloe Deakin to create the stunning visuals, and Justine Luaba on the soundscape helped bring my words to life. As an artist, I often combine and experiment with multiple forms of artistic medium to add different dimensions to my writing.

In my piece, part of the city does die – but there is hope as the rest of the city is kept alive – barely – on a life support machine. I believe our past lives have died. Nothing, surely can, nor should, be the same again. But there is hope that in the wake of this rubble we can all be re-born into something new, and better for all.


A digital exhibition of artworks created during lockdown and inspired by university research. Amongst these 18 artistic responses to research, you’ll discover poetry about Coventry, Covid-19 and the Black Lives Matters movement. Find stories about what Coventry means to refugees, and learn about Coventry’s twinning history, women’s suffrage and how interactive games can help break down the complexities of homelessness. Hear the words of healthcare workers during the first peak of Coronavirus, and explore creative connections forged by ‘The Artist and the Prof’.

Coventry Creates is part of the ongoing work by Coventry and Warwick universities in the lead up to the City of Culture. The University Partnership has funded over 30 creative research projects, involving over 50 Coventry organisations and local communities.


More information about Coventry Creates