Art in the Plague YearThere is Another World, But It Is in This One
ART IN THE PLAGUE YEAR presents art that looks toward the future. “There is another world, but it is in this one,” said Surrealist poet Paul Éluard. In this exhibition, artists imagine how the world may be molded by the tumultuous events of the past year. History tells us that pandemics are portals to new futures. This work offers hints about means of change and pathways forward. Artists are keen observers and virtuosic dreamers. They put forth hunches, illuminations, and confident loose ends.
Through these artists, a sense of the future leaks into the present. There is a pervading sense that the civilized is in retreat. That we are passing through an episode—like a long sleepless night—that we will not want to remember but cannot forget. And that to cross safely into the future we must return to simpler, more essential things: to our bodies, to nature, to rituals, taking inventory, reaching for justice.
The exhibition contains photographs, videos, drawings, audio pieces, and multi-media art by 55 artists from around the world. They are drawn from an avalanche of interest—thousands of pieces made by 664 artists. We have divided the exhibition, a bit arbitrarily, into eight themes. 2020 was a year of beauty, pain, and strangeness. The coronavirus laid bare societal inequities, racial rifts, and economic injustices. Artists, meanwhile, did what they always do: respond, create, make sense, guide us into the future. And for that, we thank them.
Art in the Plague Year is an online exhibition organized by UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography and curated by Douglas McCulloh, Nikolay Maslov, and Rita Sobreiro Souther. UCR ARTS’s programs are supported by UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, the City of Riverside, Altura Credit Union, and Anheuser-Busch. All works in this exhibition are reproduced with permission of the artists/copyright holders. Images must not be used or reproduced for any purposes other than fair use without prior consent of the artists.
UCR ARTS: California Museum of Photography is the photography museum of the University of California. Founded in 1973, the museum creates exhibitions concerned with the intersection of photography, new imaging, and society. With more than 500,000 objects, it holds one of the major photography collections in the United States. The museum serves a diverse California, U.S. and international audience with research, exhibitions, education, performance, programming, and publications. Learn more about UCR ARTS at ucrarts.ucr.edu