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Curatorial Statement

Jay Pather and Vaughn Sadie


COVID-19 changed so much of how we feel and think about the present and future. The pandemic has assailed us with uncertainty and a kind of darkness that can be overwhelming because it is not limited to place or time. It is worldwide, and ongoing. How do artists, amongst the most precarious in our society, make sense for us at this time? What tools do they give us, as they have always done in such calamitous times, to see through this? How can we play? How to dream? How to speak of such disturbance and yet see the power and potential of art, to inspire community and visions of solidarity and hope?

These questions have occupied us as they have most of the world’s artists and curators. This year, SPIER LIGHT ART does not want to forget, go beyond or desperately dream in spite of. We want to acknowledge the grief and the pain of our physical, spiritual and economic worlds. We want to acknowledge, also, that we are not all in this together. In any storm, some have boats and some have rafts and some simply only have themselves to keep above water. Although COVID-19 is a common storm, it affects us all differently – especially so in a deeply unequal society like ours. What is universal, though, is our need for light and lightness. And so, SPIER LIGHT ART features both attempts to walk through struggles as well as glimmers of pure beauty and opportunities to play.

In bringing together this rich selection of works, four curatorial strands have emerged. Strand 1 explores history, memory and futures; strand 2 deals more directly with the pandemic as well as a call for resilience and survival; strand 3 deepens the thoughts on precarity, fragility and transience as it relates to all sentient beings, embracing animism and the human; and strand 4 considers light as igniting our impulse to dream, play and explore imagination. These strands serve as a gentle guide through the experience as you move through the common storm. We hope that the generosity of work attests to an abiding and reassuring ability in our society to create and build even when so much is attempting to take hope and optimism away.

We want to thank Spier for providing the opportunity for the lights to be proverbially ‘switched on’ again. We are thankful for this opportunity to help provide a reprieve (however small or temporary), and for such nourishment to exist at a time when bouts of darkness have become a daily experience in our worlds.



1. 1. #iorestoacasa

Mattia Spagnuolo

This virtual artefact visualises data about the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of a particle system. The most relevant data about the virus outbreak is mapped to variables that modify the shape and colour of the system. The work was conceived and developed in Italy during the period of lockdown, introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19. At the very beginning of the artist's confinement at home – every day at 18:00 – he turned on the news for updates on the virus situation. After a week or two, the numbers overwhelmed him and stopped making any sense. The artist then used the data that was making him feel so uneasy and began representing it in a more soothing way. This work encourages reflection on the world’s situation and reminds the viewer of the importance of compliance with the lockdown measures.

The title of this work, #iorestoacasa, translates to ‘I stay at home’ and pays tribute to the communal world effort to slow the disease's spread thus relieving pressure on healthcare systems.



2. 2. The Lonely Sailor Weather Report

Lonesome Sailors collective

This work explores the journey towards amphibious living. It draws together several short broadcasts that become different focal areas as in a shipping weather report. These unusual broadcasts see the sailor, who is losing signal to the weather station, reporting back from sea. At a slippery intersection, the loss of radio signal meets the rise of an ever present static as the sailor slowly becomes jumbled by — and infiltrated into — the watery surrounds.