Hard Choices: Should I Go to Art World Events During the Plague?

There was a glorious, albeit brief, moment in the fall when it felt like the new normal had finally set in. Galleries were once more hosting crowded openings, and art fairs had restored luxury shopping back to pre-Covid levels. Delta had caused a disruption, but, like a phoenix risen, the art world was pumped to party again—until the fever pitch dimmed and made everything seem like a sobering superspreader event. Now, in deep winter, here we are with a new variant and the same old pandemic problems. But gallerists, artists, and collectors are all so tired of being sidelined that many of them are still willing to risk disease to attend openings, dinners, and whatever else. How do you feel about jumping back into the swing of things in the age of Omicron? Take this quiz to determine if you are ready to spread your art love or if you should stay socially distant.

1. You get in a group conversation at an opening about which vaccine everyone received. You proudly answer:

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a. Johnson & Johnson
b. Sputnik-V
c. Liquid-Plumr

2. An old art friend from Geneva who is back in town after travel restrictions have been lifted. He leans in to give you the classic Swiss three-kiss greeting. You:

a. Lysol him in the face.
b. Escalate the hello to a full-on Mamma Mia! kiss on the lips.
c. Elbow him in the esophagus because that is the American greeting now.

3. A friend slips a small baggie in your hand and touches her nose with a smile. You:

a. Saunter to the bathroom and hoover fat rails off the toilet seat with cool young people.
b. Lecture her on the dangers of Fentanyl contamination and respiratory risks associated with nose candy.
c. Pocket it and party at home by yourself while binge watching Emily in Paris.

4. The European gallerist you have been dying to get a studio visit with surprisingly reaches out for a big hug, but you immediately notice that he is coughing and maskless. You:

a. Shriek, flee the room, and forever rue this missed opportunity.
b. Politely ask him to put his mask on while waving “hi” from six feet away.
c. Go in for the hug because you already had Covid three times this year.

5. When you arrive at the gallery, you realize you’ve stepped into a participatory bio-art event involving live bacteria sculptures, homeopathic inhalers, and a marathon poetry slam in a crowded basement. You:

a. Straight-up catch Covid from the shared microphone while versifying your truth.
b. Zip your full-body Tivek suit and liquid dance to the freak show.
c. Pull the fire alarm and be a hero.

6. You receive a text about a 20-person group show opening tonight at your friend’s apartment gallery in Ridgewood. You:

a. Hang on the sidewalk with a tall boy and say your last goodbyes to everyone going inside.
b. Unwittingly help create the next Covid variant by air-swapping hot spittle in the 43-square-foot kitchen.
c. Lurk party pictures on Instagram and tell people you were there.

7. There are some once-in-a-lifetime exhibitions you can’t bear to miss. You would risk it all to see:

a. A two-city Jasper Johns retrospective.
b. Beeple’s pop-up show at Outback Steakhouse.
c. Your grandma’s memorial watercolor exhibition in the stairwell at her beloved YWCA.

8. After years of being only invited to second-tier openings at the museum, you unexpectedly receive a VIP preview pass for a collections exhibition that will surely be under-attended. You:

a. Stay home and darn your socks while listening to Planet Money.
b. Aren’t impressed because the AV guy has been sneaking you in for years.
c. Paint “Vax the Rich” on the back of your Vera Wang gown and get ready for a night to remember.

9. When asked about your current priorities in the art world, you would describe them as:

a. Test and trace.
b. Pump and dump.
c. Pete and Kim.

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11–17: It’s remarkable that you bothered to take this quiz when you know that the answer to all this tomfoolery is NO. Save the small talk you would have wasted on your transactional friends for your virtual Zocdoc visit and start refreshing all your open tabs so that you can book an appointment for the next booster re-up.

18–25: You feel that the risk of “milder” Omicron is equivalent to the game of E. Coli Russian Roulette that you play five days a week at the Whole Foods salad bar. At the end of the day, you crave heaping scoops of art by the pound to nourish your ambition and soul. You believe that culture must live in harmony with a potential killer virus and near-certain diarrhea. Otherwise, how could humanity have produced such wonders as Italian opera, Euclidean geometry, or racist McRib NFTs?

26–33: Did you hear the CDC has reduced quarantine to five days and says it’s now OK to wear white before Labor Day? It’s all systems go for you to jump back into the art world’s petri dish. Hans Ulrich Obrist, Gagosian, Casa Dragones tequila, and legions of blue-check art influencers are waiting for you to plug back into the blue-pill Matrix metaverse. Watch out or you might just end up being the DJ at the germ gala.

Source: artnews.com

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