Earlier this spring, writer Kevin Powell and photographer Kay Hickman embarked on what some might consider a daunting journey. As New York City faced record numbers of COVID-19 infections, the pair traversed the five boroughs to craft a multimedia portrait of a city navigating crisis. According to the New York Times, Powell and Hickman spent two days interviewing and photographing Powell’s friends and acquaintances about their experiences amid the pandemic. Each visit was conducted from a safe distance — through windows or on stoops — and the pair got around with the help of a driver they hired, Hany Nashed. The resulting exhibition, Hope Wanted: New York City Under Quarantine, presented in the courtyard of the New-York Historical Society, points to both the grave challenges faced by New Yorkers, and their resilience.
“Honestly, motivation is difficult,” explains Leticia Lucero in a statement shared in the exhibition. A community organizer who works at the Stapleton NYCHA houses in Staten Island, Lucero and her immediate family members are all essential workers, meaning they witnessed firsthand the effects of the virus, and lived daily with the anxiety of contracting and spreading the virus to loved ones (thankfully, none of them have tested positive). Her words, which are featured prominently above images of her standing on her porch on Staten Island and looking out from a window, reveal the intense emotional strain and fatigue endured by many of the city’s essential workers. On either side of this pairing, images of empty shopping centers, bus stops, and a lightly trafficked bridge amplify the stark emptiness of local streets in a normally bustling city.
Elsewhere, Hickman’s photos of essential workers, passersby, and unhoused people cast a heroic lens on some of the city’s most at-risk communities. Her images are contemplative and tender, and reflect her commitment to “challenging monolithic representation” via documentary photography. She and Powell recently partnered on another New York Times story, which likewise portrays the pandemic with nuance and intimacy, putting faces and names to statistics that can sometimes feel surreal.
As one of the first new institutional exhibitions to open in the city since March, Powell and Hickman’s project may also offer a roadmap for museums planning to reopen later this month, following Governor Andrew Cuomo’s announcement that indoor cultural institutions may reopen starting August 24, provided they follow a variety of safety measures including operating at 25% capacity. Beyond taking place outside, using weather-proofed reproductions and a timed-entry system, Hope Wanted features oral histories that visitors can access via their own cell phones. The exhibition’s audio and text will be available in English and Spanish, and free masks will be available for any visitors who don’t have one (face coverings are required for entry).
As budgets continue to remain tight for many across the city, Hope Wanted offers a crucial free opportunity to ruminate on not just on art, but also local history in the making.
When: Hope Wanted continues through November 29
Where: New-York Historical Society (170 Central Park West at Richard Gilder Way/77th Street, Upper West Side, Manhattan)
More info at New-York Historical Society
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.
Ten Painful Stories of the Dutch Colonial Slave Trade
The Rijksmuseum’s traveling show strives to remind us that we are all, in some way, a part of this chapter of human history, whose legacy continues today.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Textured Histories at Shiprock Santa Fe
The Santa Fe gallery features Indigenous textiles and jewelry from the early 19th century to today.
Renaissance Portrait of “Ugly Duchess” Likely Depicts a Man
A curator at London’s National Gallery believes the subject of painter Quinten Massys’s painting “is most likely a he.”
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Hokusai’s “Great Wave” Makes a Splash at Auction
An edition of the iconic woodblock print broke records when it sold for $2.8M this week.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?