As traditional holiday gatherings threaten the public health of our country, Xavier Cortada, professor of practice at the University of Miami, has launched a new virtual exhibit at the Wynwood Gallery to remind the community of the dangers of this pandemic.
Cortada explained that in the exhibit, “Pandemic | Miami Corona Project ”, he created a series of video performances to remind us that the virus is still here and that it is getting worse.
“I honored the dead by documenting their loss, and did so to warn us of the danger to come,” Cortada said. “During this Thanksgiving, we need to be thankful, but we also need to always be sure to follow all protocols, so the virus doesn’t spread to our dinner tables. “
In accordance with the reality of the time, the personal exhibition can only be experienced online.
“With great evils the great means. Maybe our in-person vacation meetings need to be postponed to another season,” he said.
In the exhibit there are a variety of videos honoring and thanking those who have passed away. Since the start of the pandemic, thousands of people have died alone and far from their families in Miami-Dade County.
In the video Saying Goodbye: An Offer of Gratitude, Cortada invites viewers to re-enact her ritual performance and bring an end to the deaths of loved ones who have died in isolation.
“As an artist, it’s my job to tell the truth and unveil the reality of the pandemic,” he said.
“In the videos, I try to humanize the dead as a way to reflect on those who have been lost.”
Cortada hopes people learn and are inspired to adopt safer health behaviors after experiencing her exposure.
“You cannot ignore or soften the situation,” he said. “My hope is that someone who has stopped worrying about the pandemic stumbles upon this job and realizes that their urge to stop being vigilant can do the most harm to loved ones while on vacation. “
Cortada said the purpose of starting this project was born out of his social practice. He explained that his work is meant to generate awareness and action by using the elasticity of art to engage others.
“I am an artist who uses art to engage the community in an interdisciplinary way to solve problems. In this project, the interdisciplinary approach involved politicians, UM scientists, students and community members sharing their views on the impact of the pandemic on us, ”Cortada said.
The virtual exhibit is part of the University of Miami’s COVID-19 rapid response effort, where Cortada provided coronavirus updates to the community through videos and conversations, documenting and honoring the lives of Miami-Dade residents who succumbed to the virus.
The Miami Corona Project was based on a cohesive online presence that engaged individuals through a variety of platforms. In an age when social distancing is the norm, this web-based project gives voice to individuals who feel disconnected from society. The project serves as a real-time record of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Miami-Dade County, while also providing an outlet for cross-community engagement between individuals.
To view the digital exhibition, visit https://art.as.miami.edu/gallery/online-gallery/xc/xaviercortadapandemic.html.