The Plague Archives

The Plague Archives is a site-specific installation comprised of multiple video projections, performances, and a dense collection of archival material on the social, cultural, and political histories of epidemics and outbreaks. The viewer walks into an immersive Wunderkammer of malady: to experience how people in circumstances of mass illness have negotiated their fear and suffering—their political, economic, and spiritual realities—their class and racial bigotries. To not just learn history, but to feel history.

The Plague Archive began as a quarantine sanity project. In the first weeks of lockdown in 2020, I began posting to Instagram one image from the history of epidemics and outbreaks every day. Diving into the past as our present was unfolding anchored me in how our so-called “unprecedented” COVID moment was profoundly precedented. It became an On Kawara-style endurance performance, a daily discipline in engaging with history.

Curated by Ciara Ennis at Pitzer Art Galleries, the first iteration of the work included two new videos: Productions of Whiteness and Great Men and Sheep. I also performed the lecture-demonstration of The Dancing Plagues at 2220Arts, presented by The Public School LA.

The Plague Archives on Instagram.

Audio excerpt from the Dancing Plagues.

Images from Pitzer installation (January-March 2023) and The Dancing Plagues at 2220Arts (October 2021)