Atlanta Contemporary publicly announced the curators, Dr. Jordan Amirkhani (Main Galleries) and TK Smith (Project Spaces) in February of 2020 one month prior to the mandated shelter-in-place announcements throughout the country. Though the intent to commission new work by artists from around our city and region remain, both curators quickly recognized their challenge in navigating the anxiety, grief, and uncertainty brought on by the pandemic and how best to elucidate these collective sentiments.
In keeping with the long-established vision of the Atlanta Biennial, Dr. Amirkhani states: “'this exhibition invites the weight of these cultural murmurations to seep and sow against the range of material and conceptual methods of response available to artists in 2020 ... for what is at stake in this exhibition is whether or not representations can provide adequate responses to the fluctuating conditions and complexities of life lived in the United States.”
All studio visits occurred via Zoom with walk-throughs of the galleries accomplished over Facetime. In short, this was not business as usual. Yet, at the core of this work, the artists, curators, and staff endure the emotional, mental, and physical oppression of this time. We can all agree: the future is uncertain yet as TK Smith promises: “[this exhibition] leaves viewers with new ways of understanding and coping with the ephemerality of material life.”
Art is essential.