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August 7th, 2020

Each week, Artful spotlights an art experience or destination that speaks to us right now.

In 1982, the artist and poet Raúl Zurita staged a bold performance in the skies over Queens: five decommissioned World War II planes took off from Flushing Airport and spelled out lines from his book of poetry La vida nueva (The new life) in skywriting. The action was Zurita's response to the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in his home country of Chile, and part of a body of large-scale public artworks meant as gestures of political resistance. (Zurita, who survived imprisonment and torture during Pinochet's regime, is one of the founders of the group CADA, or Colectivo de Acciones de Arte, and has also used a bulldozer to carve lines of text into the Atacama Desert.)

Inspired by Zurita, the 2019-20 Curatorial Fellows of the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program have now organized a virtual exhibition called "After La vida nueva" for Artists Space in New York. It extends the spirit of Zurita's art to feminist, queer, and Third World liberation movements as seen in the work of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Rashaad Newsome, Alan Michelson, and others. The idea is to highlight artists and groups that not only take aim at oppression and injustice, but envision what the curators call "the pursuit of a new life concomitant with new modes of being together."

The show was originally meant to be a physical exhibition, but in our new pandemic reality it will unfold as a series of online screenings and presentations that rotate weekly through the end of August, as well as a digital catalog. At the opening "reception" via Zoom (August 7 at 6pm), the Chilean artist Amelia Bande will perform a new interactive sound and video piece titled El estallido / The Outbreak, inspired by the contemporary activism that has emerged since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Registration is required; a link is here).

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