Welcome to the World’s First COVID-19 Art Museum
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because art can change us forever.
By Dan Peleschuk
With entire populations around the world locked inside, museums everywhere have closed their doors until the deadly coronavirus pandemic passes.
Not this one. Which actually opened.
Since crisis fuels artistic inspiration — and lockdowns provide artists plenty of time to realize it all — three Barcelona-based advertising professionals came up with a bright idea: the Covid Art Museum (CAM), an Instagram account collecting the best COVID-19-related work out there.
Launched in mid-March, just as Spain was careening into the health crisis, this volunteer effort showcases the creative fruits of mostly European artists who have something to say about how society’s changing before our eyes. Musing over the ways social distancing has altered daily life, or simply poking fun at it, creators from Italy, Germany, Spain and elsewhere have weighed in with their keen artistic wit.
After all, “we are now in a period of very important reflection on everything,” says CAM co-founder Irene Llorca, creative art director at marketing agency Honest Barcelona.
Toilet paper features prominently too.
Popular themes include creative pleas for consumers to stay home, as well as playful takes on the newly ubiquitous face masks. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, toilet paper features prominently too. Virtually every art form — photographs, illustrations, installations and much more — makes an appearance in the museum’s quickly growing archive, which now includes more than 250 posts.
London-based art director Thomas Ollivier, also known as Tom le French, has turned his attention to a series of photographic manipulations that comment, among other things, on what face masks might tell us about our future. Even after the crisis ends, he says, the objects might find their way into our normal routine. “Surely it will start to become like a handbag or an accessory, and obviously brands will step in and create their own version of it,” he says.
Receiving dozens of submissions each day, the museum has enjoyed a surge in popularity — in less than a month, it’s already amassed 19,000 followers — while Llorca says the team’s getting tons of positive feedback from artists and ordinary consumers alike.
For creators, it’s a free platform for their art. For everyone else, Llorca adds, “it’s a space that can give them strength and help them realize that they are not alone in this.
“Maybe they’ll see that artwork by a Spanish person in Bilbao speaks directly about their current situation. It’s a way to connect people virtually.”
Just like with every other aspect of life these days, it feels pointless to talk about future plans. But at the very least, Llorca says, a digital book might be in the works — plus a physical exhibition, for when it’s all over.
For now, though, she encourages art lovers to follow along. And Ollivier, the London-based art director, suggests there’s plenty more to come.
“Even noncreative people are getting creative,” he says.
- Dan Peleschuk, OZY Author Contact Dan Peleschuk