The viral meme “nature is healing” is one of the few positive things to come out of the coronavirus pandemic. A satire of recent and mostly false social media posts about animals suddenly reemerging in unlikely environments with the decline in human activity, the meme speaks to our sometimes misplaced desire for a feel-good story in difficult times.
Jumping on the trend, Guatemala City-based gallery Proyectos Ultravioleta has ingeniously photoshopped fuzzy and feathered visitors into installation views of its now shuttered exhibition The Gardeners.
“We’ve witnessed the return of swans to Venice, dolphins in Sardinia, mountain goats in North Wales, and now the unimaginable: ostriches, pandas, and even penguins, amongst other animal friends in our space in Guatemala!!” reads the caption of the gallery’s Instagram post, where the images were first shared.
Proyectos Ultravioleta closed its doors about three weeks ago, after the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Guatemala. Stefan Benchoam, one of the gallery’s co-founders, told Hyperallergic the meme idea came as the team brainstormed how to rethink its programming for an online-only platform.
“Suddenly we saw a saturation of the digital space. The question for us was, how can we add to this?” he said. “We didn’t just want to add more noise, we wanted to make people smile a little bit.”
The gallery was inspired by rapidly circulating and since debunked photographs, such as those of elephants getting drunk on corn wine in a field in China, as well as unbelievable images that turned out to be completely real — like documentation of hundreds of wild Kashmiri goats coolly parading the streets of Llandudno, a coastal town in Wales.
The Internet’s immediate, blind obsession with the phenomenon is a massive but admittedly well-intentioned fail. And like all the greatest hits of the meme canon, “nature is healing” is an instantly recognizable symbol of the times we are living, signaling a collective and very human attempt to make the best of tragic circumstances.
“People were desperately trying to find a silver lining,” said Benchoam.
The art world has always been receptive to memes, but in recent weeks, the arts have enjoyed a notable viral moment; the restaging of famous artworks using household items, for instance, has become a favorite quarantine pastime. As galleries and museums adapt their programs to the digital world, they might take a tip from Proyectos Ultravioleta and add visual humor to their slate of viewing rooms, virtual shows, webinars, and online auctions.
“The pandemic is hitting closer and closer to home, affecting the places we live in and know,” said Benchoam, adding that the crisis’s impact on Latin America’s already frail economic infrastructure will be disastrous.
“We’re all trying to find ways to cope. We wanted to create something to lighten the burden.”
The Tweet comparing an ominous screen capture from the Tucker Carlson Show to one of Holzer’s Truisms is being sold as an NFT to benefit crucial organizations in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.
Rapper Maykel “Osorbo” Pérez was sentenced to nine years.
Shows at the Hudson Valley’s Hessel Museum of Art feature artists Dara Birnbaum and Martine Syms, as well as new scholarship on Black melancholia as an artistic and critical practice.
On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision to undo 50 years of constitutional rights to abortion, artist Elana Mann’s “protest rattles” feel especially poignant and urgent.
This week, Title IX celebrates 50 years, the trouble with pronouns, a writer’s hilarious response to plagiarism allegations, and much more.
PLEASE SEND TO REAL LIFE: Ray Johnson Photographs reveals the “career in photography” that occupied the artist in the last three years of his life.
Since antiquity, women’s eyebrows have been sites of intense scrutiny, constantly shifting between trend cycles.
A landmark show of 30 artists at Jeffrey Deitch gallery in New York keeps the category of Asian figuration open-ended.
Contemporary Black-Indigenous women artists Rodslen Brown, Joelle Joyner, Moira Pernambuco, Paige Pettibon, Monica Rickert-Bolter, and Storme Webber are featured in this digital exhibition.
Hall makes no attempt to entice the viewer to begin looking and to look again, letting her methodical craft compel viewers to reflect upon their experience.
In Benglis’s latest works, the forces of gravity that defined her seminal poured latex and polyurethane pieces are traded for luminous bronzes.
A new project by Columbia’s Queer Students of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation explores queer histories that have been suppressed by gentrification and urban development.