THE ART NEWSPAPER — Annabel Keenan

By Annabel Keenan | 25 March 2022 for THE ART NEWSPAPER

Five New York shows explore the pandemic’s effects two years after the city’s first Covid-19 lockdowns

From Renate Aller’s touching photos of sidewalk gatherings to Uuriintuya Dagvasambuu’s vaccine-inspired Mongol Zurag paintings, artists are reflecting on the darkest days of the initial outbreak


Renate Aller: side walk 6′ apart in New York City, installation view at the New-York Historical Society
above partial installation photo: Glenn Castellano, New-York Historical Society

As New York passed the second anniversary of the initial Covid-19 lockdowns, galleries and museums throughout the city opened shows exploring how the pandemic has affected everyday life. Touching on themes of isolation, public health and the increasingly blurred boundaries between our digital and physical lives, these five shows offer a look at some of the artistic responses to life during the pandemic.

In March 2020, photographer Renate Aller found herself among the group of New Yorkers who decided to ride out lockdown in the city. By April, her urge to connect with others took over and she began inviting friends, one at a time, to join her on the sidewalk in Soho, all from six feet apart. Photographing each of her encounters, many of which were the first social interactions her friends had experienced since before lockdown, Aller produced a series of images that capture the anxiety and uncertainty of the early pandemic days, as well as the resilience of New Yorkers. A monument to how society adapted, the exhibition offers a cautious dose of optimism that we are far enough from the dark days of the pandemic to be able to meaningfully reflect on them, but simultaneously reserves space for losses, changes and lingering uncertainty.

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