A Layer of Sterility | Sojourners

A Layer of Sterility

Gallery hopping in a pandemic. 
In this Chloe Wise painting, a man is hugging and touching the hand of a person with sterility gloves and purrell hand sanitizer..
Tormentedly Untainted, 2019, by Chloe Wise

A FEW WEEKS ago, a friend invited me to New York with them to see some art. After taking the commuter train down from New Haven, Conn., we made our way through Grand Central Station, onto the subway, then up a steep escalator, eventually arriving at the gallery’s entrance.

Visiting Manhattan during a pandemic is a fascinating study in strangeness. The Times Square subway station is so quiet you can hear your own footsteps. Sweaty players duel on a basketball court, and I am shocked by seeing unmasked faces in public. Even the experience of gallery hopping, one that used to be extremely familiar to me, feels askew. A few of the places we visit require a signed liability waiver before entering. Each desk is punctuated by a giant bottle of hand sanitizer. This imposing combination does not stop me from enjoying the work I see, however. There are many juxtapositions of color and line that sparkle in my brain. An image of a fabric store, itself made out of fabric, proves especially delightful. I see some art books that I think I might like to have in my home. I am glad to have gone.

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