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The exhibition builds on Arundhati Roy's essay arguing Covid-19 is a chance to break with the past.

Armory to Launch Online Show ‘The Pandemic Is a Portal’

Cyrus Kabiru, Macho Nne Malkia Mzungu (white queen) (2019) (detail). C-Type Print on Diasec Mount. 118.5 x 98cm. Courtesy SMAC Gallery.

Around 20 galleries will exhibit works as part of an online exhibition organised by New York's Armory Show art fair from 15 to 25 April.

Conceived by Daniel S. Palmer, curator at New York's Public Art Fund, the exhibition will build on Arundhati Roy's excellent essay 'The Pandemic Is a Portal', first published in the Financial Times on 4 April last year.

After enumerating the suffering of India's almost 200 million Muslims under Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the vulnerability of the country's poor (who increased in number by 75 million during the pandemic to 134 million), Roy argues that the pandemic is a portal.

She says we can 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.'

'In her poignant article, Roy asks, at this critical juncture will we turn our back to yesterday and take the step forward to transition from our current world into the next? What will we leave behind?,' Palmer said. 'Each artist in this presentation is grappling with these very questions and demonstrates how art continually pushes us to reimagine our existence.'

Highlights of the online exhibition include: Ann Veronica Janssens' light work RR lyrae (2014), presented by Alfonso Artiaco Gallery, Naples; Hank Willis Thomas' History is Past, Past is Present (2019) presented by Ben Brown Fine Arts, London; a film by Bruce Conner from Kohn Gallery, Los Angeles; and a selection of works from Cyrus Kabiru's Macho Nne series presented by SMAC Gallery, Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Stellenbosch.

The exhibition is part of a series called Armory Access: Curated that evolved from digital programming the fair introduced in response to the pandemic in April last year.

'The Armory Show has always valued and supported curatorial perspectives, so it made sense to bring a curator's voice to the program to offer a refreshing and tailored take on the online viewing experience,' said Nicole Berry, the fair's executive director.

The second Armory Access: Curated exhibition will be led by César García-Alvarez, Founder and Executive & Artistic Director of The Mistake Room in Los Angeles. The exhibition's theme has not yet been announced.

The Armory Show takes place at New York City's Javits Center 9–12 September. —[O]

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