In 2020, the new strain of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, shocked and consumed our world. Masks became a new part of our daily attire, and concepts such as social distancing and quarantine became part of our routine.
Historically, masks have been used for ritual, ceremony, community identity, and also for protection. Face coverings as a protective device emerged in society between 1347 and 1351 as the bubonic plague spread. Although face masks are not new to humanity, their joint use as a protective and expressive device has never been seen on such a large scale as we see today.
In this current pandemic, masks are representations of self-expression, political stance, fashion statements, and a symbol of humanity’s hope and care for one another. This exhibition is an ode to the mask, and to the artists and every day citizens making their way during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ýr Jóhannsdóttir (Ýrúrarí) wearing a mask cover she knit during Covid-19 stay-at-home orders in Reykjavik, Iceland. Image courtesy of Ýr Jóhannsdóttir, 2020.