Art during the pandemic continues to be a diary of our collective experience. For 85 days, I’ve been in a shelter-in-place since March 1st. Government response has been an abject failure. Instead of fifty states working together, it’s fifty different nations with fifty different Covid-19 responses. The second wave will be arriving to a location near you.
Art continues to provide solace and clarity during the pandemic. According to NPR: “In health crises, people have long turned to the arts to inform and inspire. During the 1980s AIDS epidemic, the words ‘silence = death’ were printed on posters, pins and patches. And during the 2014 Ebola crisis, murals with the slogan ‘Ebola is real’ were painted across West Africa.”
CORONAVIRUS ALERT SYSTEM FAILURE description: My art practice investigates symbols of influence and power that impact perception. COVID-19 ravages across America while an incompetent president plays Russian roulette with the lives of citizens. The administration’s response is to confiscate PPE (personal protective equipment), promote pseudoscience, gaslight truth, and deflect responsibility. A custom safety sign has been repurposed with the words CORONAVIRUS ALERT SYSTEM FAILURE. Pandemic mitigation becomes decimated under a broken system built on incompetence and greed.
In 2018, a visit to the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) left a deep impression. Reflecting back today, Yael Bartana’s What if Women Ruled the World continues to resonate. From the NMWA website: “Inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, in which a select group of powerful white men assemble to discuss nuclear war and unilaterally determine the fate of the human race, Bartana’s What if Women Ruled the World both proposes and proclaims a peaceful alternative.”
Throughout humanity, artists have consistently confronted political and social issues. From revolution to human rights activism, history reflects how artworks alert the truths of our world. Political propaganda can’t gaslight the pandemic!