By Jessica Holmes
August 21, 2020
As summer draws to an end and the Covid-19 global pandemic continues into its sixth month, Degree Critical is looking back to days not so long ago when strolling through Chelsea in New York (and other gallery neighborhoods elsewhere around the world) was something one could do on a lark. We poked our heads into one space perhaps, moving on quickly before becoming absorbed in a new exhibition at the next. We bumped into friends or struck up conversations with strangers, and talked about the paintings, the sculptures, the installations revealed before us.
What does gallery-hopping mean today? Among those galleries that have been able to re-open, it means viewers making appointments, spaces limiting their capacities, and masks, hand sanitizer and physical distancing always required. Even this restricted choice is only available for those who are physically able to show up at a gallery’s door. For many other art-seekers, too many obstacles remain in the way for even this possibility. For now—and for who knows how long—gone are the days of the lark.
As summer’s long days begin to dwindle, art-lovers everywhere know this time of year typically brings a sense of anticipation, a gearing up for the autumn to come. Fall is the time of the museum showstopper, the time when galleries throw open their doors. There are openings to sample, reviews to read, events and performances to attend. The air is lush with the promise of enchantment. But for as long as this pandemic hangs on, this promise will likely remain subdued, the idea of the undirected wander just a wish.
This week, to counter that mournful, wistful nostalgia, Degree Critical has compiled a “virtual gallery hop,” a selection of eight insightful gallery show reviews that we have published in the past several years. This incisive writing that we’re privileged to feature on these pages offers a respite, we hope, to so many who are unable to quench their thirst for looking in real time. May this gallery stroll provide faith in our collective resilience, and also a reminder about the many ways that art has the power to provoke, to nourish, and to endure.
—Jessica Holmes, Editor-in-Chief
Jessica Holmes is the Editor-in-Chief of Degree Critical. She also contributes regularly to the Brooklyn Rail, BOMB, and other publications. Find her writing and other projects as http://www.jessica-holmes.net.