Carmen Papalia / Heather Kai Smith, Interdependence is Central to the Radical Restructuring of Power, 2020, pencil on paper / digital drawing. Courtesy the artists.

The Pandemic is a Portal

June 22 - July 31, 2020
@sfugalleries

Simranpreet Anand, Anna Banana, Vanessa Brown / Francey Russell, Lacie Burning, Margaret Dragu / Justine A. Chambers / Kage, Lucien Durey, Jessica Evans, Elisa Ferrari, Sharona Franklin, Michelle Helene Mackenzie, Megan Hepburn, S F Ho, Julian Hou, Hazel Meyer, Cindy Mochizuki, Cecily Nicholson, Carmen Papalia / Heather Kai Smith, Jacquelyn Zong-Li Ross, Jayce Salloum, and Nicole Kelly Westman.

In this time of shared crisis it is necessary to renounce a return to normalcy — which was already a catastrophe for so many — and to move towards an otherwise world, one rooted in care.

Drawing from the thinking of Arundhati Roy, The Pandemic is a Portal considers what is changing about our social and political realities, and what futures our responses move us toward:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew.

This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.[1]

In sharing news of the galleries’ closures in mid-March, we reiterated our commitment to gathering publics in ways that engage with our social and political environments as historical inheritances, contemporary realities and speculative futures. We also expressed a desire to use these distanced times to critically interrogate how we form community, who we form it with, and how we can do better. If we accept Roy’s proposition, that the pandemic is a portal, then how can our responses to this time prepare the ground for forms of community to come — forms that are more just and more unsettled than the forms of community we’ve left behind?

We asked artists and writers to respond to these questions from within the experience of pandemic illness, which is distinct for all. Their responses will be shared on SFU Galleries’ Instagram account throughout the exhibition’s run.

Following the exhibition, the works will be shared in a zine, distributed by post, as a kind of correspondence art that reaches people where they take shelter. If you would like to receive a copy, please send a message with your mailing address to sfugallery@sfu.ca by July 6, 2020.

Curated by Karina Irvine, Christopher Lacroix and cheyanne turions

[1] Arundhati Roy, “The pandemic is a portal,” Financial Times Apr 3, 2020: https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca (accessed May 8, 2020).

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