pandemic summer / autumn guide

A selection of 2020 exhibitions and art projects by artist and art writer Josseline Black.

Meditations in an Emergency / UCCA Center for Contemporary Art / 21.05.2020–30.08.2020

The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art (Beijing) has inaugurated the exhibition Meditations in an Emergency dedicated to addressing strategies for resisting apathy in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The title of the show is derived from an anthology of poetry from the late Frank O’Hara. As opposed to gathering a collection of works of the 26 featured artists into one thematic container, the exhibition is divided into sub-categories: “everyday life, the body and biopolitics, the human/animal dichotomy, migration and borders, and the information landscape”. It is of interest to consider that the show is not retrospective regarding the contributors, rather aims to pull works from different points in time which can be relevant to the current moment of perplexity, economic collapse, and metaphysical inversion. Historically, the UCCA has functioned as a nodal intersection between a research center and a museum, and with Meditations in an Emergency launches another massive show.

Meditations in an Emergency © UCCA

Department of Presence 2020 / Museum of Modern Art Warsaw / 18.02.2020–31.12.2020

The annual public program for 2020, Department of Presence, associated with the Museum of Modern Art Warsaw, takes a novel approach by designating a specific artwork, the installation Demos from Andreas Angelidakis, as the site for investigating institutional responses to the climate crisis and the ramifications of non-action. Demos consists of 74 foam modules which can be reconfigured in multiple ways for different types of functional seating as well as sculptural impact. The work itself aims to interrogate the expectations surrounding announcement, public address, and assembly which are part and parcel of this history of public practices in negotiating modes of democracy. In utilising this installation in its theatrical implications as well as physical ramifications as a location for debate, The Museum for Modern Art Warsaw asks the visitor to engineer “an institution within an institution”, raising the question: can an artwork as a context operate as an institution rather than an object of institutional critique? In addition, the role of the museum as an agent in shaping “planetary and systemic change” comes to the forefront through the Department of Presence.

Department of Presence © Museum of Modern Art Warsaw

Feelers / Foco Gallery / 10.09.2020–10.10.2020

The photographic and sculptural work of Mia Dudek (Poland) vacillates between the focused and the peripheral. In her most recent series which springs from her time spent in Lisbon she addresses the subtle passions of the rhizomatic kingdom, an indefinite trace of brutalist architecture, and manufactured anatomy by staging images such that one is drawn into simultaneous anthropomorphisation and nullification of a subject. The show Feelers curated by Kasia Sobczak-Wróblewska is slated to open in October at Foco Gallery in Lisbon. It is of particular interest that the nature of this exhibition has been in flux for the past months such that a miniature of the gallery has been built in the artist’s studio, collapsing and inverting the mechanics of spectator-artwork-exhibition space. The curatorial tendency has been to evolve an understanding of Dudek’s work pseudo-chronologically in tandem with the artist’s pregnancy shifting from considering the detailed quotidien to an architectural finality which may be synesthetic. The miniaturised version of the exhibition is being rearranged, de-installed, and re-installed at spontaneous intervals, available to be viewed at the artist, curator, and gallerist Benjamin Gonthier’s approval until the official opening in October.

Mia Dudek. Fruiting Body © Mia Dudek

Sam Lavigne & Tega Brain. Get Well Soon / online / ongoing

Rhizome, the digitally dispersive research environment of the New Museum of New York, has called upon the artists Sam Lavigne and Tega Brain who have initiated a cumulative and generative online archive which is dedicated to cataloging euphemisms extracted from the comments associated with medical fundraisers on The project directly reflects the current drama and tension of living with deteriorating health on a global scale due to Covid-19. The affected individuals who may be struggling in silence are given voice within this project, whilst being protected in their anonymity. Encountering the archive, one is posed with the questions: where do we draw the line between showing concern and fetishising illness? How can we devise a collective future expressing mutual consideration that acknowledges global infrastructural failure and systemic violence? Lavigne and Brain’s project emphasises the effect of the New Museum utilising its correlative online space as a container for continual ethical investigations. Get Well Soon is commissioned jointly by the Art Center Nabi (Seoul), The New Museum, and Chronus Art Center (Shanghai).

Get Well Soon © Rhizome