The Pandemic Pandemonium invited students to release their artistic, creative, and intellectual geniuses to express, create, analyze, and visualize how the pandemic has affected our lives, our art, and our world. The initiative is a movement designed to reflect and take visible action about the role of artists and thinkers across disciplines in our society as we grapple with this monumental moment.
The Pandemic Pandemonium focused on four themes:
Resilience at the time of the pandemic
What does resilience look like during the pandemic? How can art be a vehicle to aid our emotional and psychological resilience? For this theme, students were asked to engage in how people, institutions, communities, and societies come together and recover from this global challenge. Students engaged in the changing narrative of the “hero” as put forth by the media as well as considered what kind of monument or memorial should be created for the victims of Covid-19.
Social Justice and Democracy at the time of the pandemic
Students engaged in how the pandemic highlighted and uncovered inequities and social disparities in the United States and the world. Instructors and professors encouraged inquiries into Freedom of Speech, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, health care reform, voter suppression & voter safety, anti-masker ideology, as well as access to education. Students were asked to consider how monuments serve as markers of injustice as they grappled with the issue of whose narrative gets national attention. Additionally, students questioned how civic responsibility and personal freedom coexist during this historic time.
Health, Well-being at the time of the pandemic
How has the pandemic impacted our health and well-being? For this theme, students engaged those issues surrounding health and healthcare in this country. Inquiries ranged from access to health insurance, support for frontline workers, the international race for the vaccine, as well as human fragility and the toll quarantine is taking on our bodies and emotional well-being. Students looked into the enduring visual and material culture of the pandemic and the emblems of health such as masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer. Additionally, students considered the lives and struggles of the “heroes” of the pandemic: healthcare works.
Language and Thought at the time of the pandemic
The language of the pandemic surrounds us. This theme asked students to look into the metaphors that predominate the global dialogue. How has the language of war—“We’re battling/combatting/fighting the virus"—affected how we understand the pandemic? How has rhetoric been used to create racial and global tensions? Students considered new expressions such as “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” and compared it to the language used in past pandemics as well as considering how different languages and cultures talk about Covid-19. Students were encouraged to explore how language can be a powerful tool in this time of crisis.