Sweeping, worldwide efforts are in place to gauge and moderate the full impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Economies everywhere, once adrift, reopen in search of normalcy. A period of re-adjustment unfolds at a national and global level, and the landscape of art is inevitably affected, challenged—bound for change? What is the function of art amid (and post) a global crisis? a_part: A Quarantine Collaboration aims to answer that question through a virtual art collaborative that encourages us to sift through what is essential in our lives and our society. The collective headquartered in Miami, FL, was organized as an international exchange, with more than 40 visual artists, writers, playwrights, dancers, musicians, philosophers, journalists, and computer programmers, from the U.S., Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe. a_part curator and visual artist, Johann C. Muñoz, sought to challenge global systems and hierarchies by using art to make way for new paradigms that can help us transform and re-imagine the world around us.

Halfway near completion, a_part launched on April 7th, 2020, prompting participants to create a work in response to a previous one within 36 hours. Similar to a game of telephone, superimposed over an unprecedented world crisis, this repartee documents a comprehensive array of artistic practices reciprocating with one another. Every day and a half, a new contribution is added to the sequence from a different location in the world, bringing in new information, and branching out into limitless potentialities.

"This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal."

— Toni Morrison

a_part is: Alejandro Valencia, Chad Cunha, Giannina Brusatin, Renata S. Rojo, Ella Raphaëlle Dufrene, Marisol Ocadiz, Sofia del Rivero, Valeria Guillén, Jorge Becerra, Benjamin Wexler, Hugguette Henao, Alexa Lash, Carol Todaro, Dona Altemus, Hannah Artman, Giova Brusa, Sabetty Heyaime, Kayla Rodenhiser, Jon Millan, Christian Albrecht, Sebastian D. Muñoz, Thomas Bils, Paulina Donis, Nathalie Alfonso, Paulina Rizzo, Susan Banks, Natalia Marique, Carlos Franco, Thero Makepe, Sergio O'Day, Moises Sanabria, Diana Margarita Garcia, Cathleen Ching Yee Lau, Mark Moon, Tom Virgin, Jose Luis Garcia, Adrian González-Camps, Maya Nadine Billig, Johann C. Muñoz, Lorelei Ramirez, Saaiq'a Ebrahim, Claudia Scalise, Simón Posada, Naila Mahadeo Hess, and K. Yoland.

K. YolandUntitled (Left Alone on the Island). Film Photography. Sep 21st, 2020, 12:24 p.m., London, U.K./Marseille, France.

Naila Mahadeo HessNew Age Humboldts of the New Indies. Poem. Aug 14th, 2020, 1:16 a.m., Chester Springs, PA, U.S.A.

It was a strange, new world we lived in,
this post-apocalyptic, post-Armageddon
walk through hellfire.
It was a test of our resilience,
and now we sat knee-deep in the era
of new task and new discovery,
these New Age Humboldts of the New Indies,
grabbing our riches as we ran,
our paintings, our musings,
and our secret, buried treasures.
We gathered from the plains,
and from the valleys,
from the sacred mountains,
and from the soaring skies,
from country to country,
spanning every continent,
hoping for some new wave,
new kind of digital interconnectedness
that distracted us from our insular living.
We carved codes,
we sent photos, and
we wrote messages to say
Nice to meet you,
Can I love you?
Can I look your way?
I feel you,
I need you,
Can I reach out and touch you?
from our scattered lives,
with our uninhabited love
spread like shrapnel across the globe.
We pulled our books, long untended,
thick with dust from their shelves.
We planted crops, replaced by boxes,
dismissed from memory for years,
We saw the stars afresh,
and the moon at night,
after we watched the sun alight.
We breathed in grass,
and trees that leaned
to sigh their secrets into our ears.
We found the fountain of youth
from skipping stones through river tears.
We remembered that we had children,
so we spoke to them once again.
We found pleasure
in little things.
We learned to try,
And to reach,
and to risk,
And to write.
We learned how much
we crave the no mask, no glove,
naked, raw warmth
of mouth and breath,
of human touch.
We learned to create
And we remembered once more
just how much beauty
could be born
where there was naught before.

Simón PosadaMaldiciones y tesoros. Pencil and Watercolor on Paper. Jul 24th, 2020, 12:38 p.m., Bogotá, Colombia.

Claudia Scalise, Inner garden. Gouache on Panel. 3 panels, 8 x 8 in ea. Jul 21st, 2020, 1:53 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Saaiq'a EbrahimA Letter to Someone; to Everyone; to Everything. Message Carved into the Earth with Blade: "To Whom It May Concern, I Am Sorry You Are Suffering, And No One Cares". Jul 19th, 2020, 9:20 AM, Durban, South Africa.

Lorelei Ramirez, Untitled. Ink on Paper. Jul 15th, 2020, 12:41 p.m., New York, NY, U.S.A.

Johann C. Muñoz, The Collapse of the Wave. Musical Composition & Video: 3 m. Jul 9th, 2020, 11:00 p.m., Hallandale Beach, FL, U.S.A.

Maya Nadine Billig, Adjourned. Video: 2 m 4 s. Jul 7th, 2020, 2:19 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Adrian Gonzalez-Camps, Dementia. Sound: 6m 9s, Jun 28th, 2020, 1:40 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Jose L. GarciaBajo Una Mata de Mango. Photography. Jun 26th, 2020, 4:11 p.m., U.S.A.

Tom Virgin, Raise Your Voice, Tremendo Arroz con MangoJun 25th, 2020, 5:38 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Mark MoonHearing No Objection. Short Story. Jun 23rd, 2020, 7:08 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

The pandemic is the gift from God I’d been waiting for.  The Bleaker Court Condominium Association is finally mine.  With a mug of Bordeaux sat atop my emptied and upturned hamper that doubles as a bathtub end table.  I type my commands, edicts by email, alone, surrounded by bubbles, effervescent of mango butter and green coffee bean extract.  My red wine in reach when I need a second opinion to click send.

Beatrice, that yappy bitch.  Her dogs, even worse.  At the slightest breath of a motion, she stands ready to oppose.  If she weren’t so damned passionate – that vein in her neck at meetings, pushing out, wanting to burst, such a tease, eventually retreating subdermal – I’d think it were a game for her.  But everything was a social cross to bear.  Common Sense:  USPS should leave all packages in the main building, versus Beatrice:  What about those who never come to the main building?  Common Sense:  Every food deliverymen needs to register as a guest to avoid the rapes, versus Beatrice:  Those clearly with food, an address to go to, and no interest documenting their undocumented names in a guest book should be allowed on their way.  Common Sense:  The pool is closed at dusk, versus Beatrice:  Why can’t I keep my voice down and enjoy a dark liquid drop below, to hammer out the day’s kinks?  Because, Beatrice.  Because.  Exceptions lead to exceptions, and eventually a forgotten late night reveler with a finger around a bobbing Grey Goose turns up face down floating alone in the middle, slowly rotated by the circulating jets, changing the glint off his back in the morning sun.  And then we’d have to close the pool for a week.

The yapping.  Every morning at 7:10 when she leaves.  She runs with a thud the handlebar of her beach cruiser into her front door as she negotiates it into the hall.  Every damn time.  And the shrieks of her two tiny furry rats start.  They make my testicles recede and their goose flesh rise.  It rattles my four walls.  I can’t wake up anywhere else.  This is not my choice right now.  And so I slumber to the window and watch her, laidback in her seat, down the empty sidewalk in the early light, her slowly rotating pedals.  A cruiser.  A bike made to say “I’m relaxed.”  She wouldn’t need that mechanical enforced unclenching if she didn’t have those dogs she was pedaling away from, left at sustained decibel in her own one bedroom, one bath, echo chamber.  The yelps thinning out her nerves (I hope), like a traditional silkworm worker in an unknown Chinese village, delicately thinning the starter thread pulled from the cocoon, to the slightest possible diameter to begin the long unwinding.  I wonder how long mine is.

With nowhere to go these days, holding court amid the warm suds, hamper upturned, and on my third mug before noon, I made my realization:  She had the only small dogs in the building.  I couldn’t pass a law that says “Beatrice’s dogs should be barbequed by the pool, draft beer to be provided.”  But I could pass a law that says “No dogs under 15 pounds allowed.”  Maybe 20 to be safe.  Who could claim I was singling her out?  That applied to everyone.

So, I drafted my resolution.  I wrote “whereas” clauses with flourish as my mug level lowered.  If only I could write another for someone to refill my mug.  And: Send.  Let the games begin.

She buzzed the dry island of my knee, before the water had even cooled or the bubbles had retreated.  Beatrice was, expectedly, livid.  Perhaps I hadn’t thought through this.  Certainly I hadn’t.  My mug was empty.  But the gauntlet had been thrown down.  Her passion entertained and satisfied me as much as it annoyed.  “Personal vendetta,” “effort to strip away a long, all-dog-loving history at Bleaker Court,” “Residents would rise up” – her response had it all.  I was content.  But I might have bitten off more chew toy than I could gnaw without choking.

Once I dried and paced my apartment, as I did these days for exercise, I considered the other residents.  The Alzamoras would be equally irate.  But they usually required rousing.  Beatrice was capable of that.  Clausens, Garcias – everyone at that end of the complex would be indifferent.  What about the other dog owners?  Blairs had two big collies.  Shriners had a Labrador.  The only other I could think of was Sanborn’s German shepherd.  Would any of them rally to her side?  Why should they, I thought.  Their dogs would not be affected.

For the two weeks leading into the meeting and the vote, I wondered.  She must know what those dogs do to her.  I could hear her yell at them every time she opened her door to leave.  I felt sorry for her.  They really wound her up.  I was sure she would be happier if they didn’t torment her like that.  I couldn’t imagine living in that hardened apartment.  Why hadn’t she gotten rid of them on her own?  She would be happier eventually, I was sure.

But now she seemed to slam her handlebar into the door harder than ever.  And her rebukes to the dogs to shut up were weaker.  She wanted them to shut up.  But not as much as she wanted them to drive me mad.  And I saw her talking to the other dog owners outside when she’d cross them.  No longer just a passing hello.  Maybe I was paranoid, but she stopped to really talk to them.  At a distance, though.  And with her mask.  She was terrified of contracting the COVID.  Was she getting together sufficient numbers to ruin me?  I smiled watching from the window one evening:  Her standing aside, to social distance with Sanborn as he approached, also  allowed him to continue on without having to engage her.  There was one vote she just lost.  Another night, from my second floor perch, I watched her scamper out and back to meet her Postmates at the gate.  She came across no one.  With everyone locked away for the virus, I started to wonder if this were even a fight.

I knew I had the board on my side.  I had handpicked them.  Still, when she had come without fail in the past to raise a ruckus, we found ourselves having to accommodate her.  She got too many people with an ear cocked our way.  The residents would hear if we tried anything too underhanded.  She was a perfect pain in the ass.  We would eventually get what we wanted, but it always took a damn long time.  And she always made me look like a damned fool.  My face reddened that she were about to do it again.

And for good reason.  The night of the meeting, I marshaled my prepared responses:  “Small dogs’ low stature picked up more fleas,” “Their darting paths endangered the safety of our enfeebled residents and their weak hips,” “Small dogs were more prone to attract bigger wildlife that could eat them.”  I hadn’t left my apartment yet.  I was already sweating.  The bath was too hot.  The wine too much.  But more than anything, I knew I had no good reason but for the yapping that woke me and my testicles up every goddamn morning.  I deserved peace in my realm.

I arrived at the building’s conference room.  I wore a mask like the others, even though I was sure it was all bullshit.  We small talked, all sideways glancing at our watches, waiting for Beatrice.  We all preemptively felt our stomachs dropping whenever we’d hear anything that might be her approaching up the hall.  Every minute I watched tick closer to 7:00 PM, I came up with another regret for why I shouldn’t have done it.  Wasn’t I just being an asshole, locked away too long in my own little world?  She would make a joke out of me.  All these hours leading up, and I still had no good answer to her inevitable question, “Why can’t you just let my dogs be?”  I was afraid I would be honest.  I was doomed.

But she didn’t show.  We heard through the grapevine that she refused to attend indoor gatherings – even this small – for fear of contracting the virus.  I saw a belated email from her that she wished to register her vote against the resolution electronically, since she could not attend in person.  Ha.  Like I was going to allow that.

The world opened up after that.  At least mine did.  I pushed through every piddly rule that suited me.  I lay for hours in the bath thinking of some rule that could even improve my baths.  So far, none.  Some rules I pushed, not because I wanted to, but just because I knew they would irate her.  Sometimes I felt bad.  I wish someone would refill my mug.  All of the new rules, though, made my life easier.  Wouldn’t I be an idiot, otherwise?

And the dogs be gone.  My kingdom quiet, for now.  Amen.

Cathleen Ching Yee LauI_Land. IKEA Serving Plate, Chopsticks, Toothpicks, Sawdust. 30 x 15.3 x 19 cm. Jun 21st, 11:46 p.m., 2020, Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong.

Moises SanabriaGroceries In The Times Of Quarantine. Video: 2 m 37s. Jun 17th, 2020, 2:02 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Sergio O'Day, Steph at Crandon Ruins. Photography. Jun 15th, 2020, 5:24 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Thero MakepeNkuku (Grandmother). Photography. Jun 5th, 2020, 3:41 p.m., Gaborone, Botswana.

Carlos Franco-Ruiz, Stroke the skin of absence. Video: 1m 35s. May 25th, 2020, 11:12 p.m., Sauce, Uruguay.

Natalia ManriqueCoat Hanger. Pine Wood Coat Hanger, Plastic Twine, Synthetic Wool. 24" x 2" x 2". May 21st, 2020, 7:59 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Susan BanksPearls and Twine. Felt, Water Pearls, Milagro, Twine. 2 1/4" x 2 1/4" x 3/8". May 19th, 2020, 8:43 a.m., Miami, FL/Key Largo, FL, U.S.A.

Paulina Rizzo, May I touch you? Raw clay. Dimensions Variable. May 15th, 2020, 11:20 p.m., Santo Domingo Barrio Alto, Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Nathalie Alfonso (in collaboration with Zoey Ruiz 8 y/o)36 minutes of 36 hours in 36 circles. Paper, Pencils, and Color Pencils. 4” Ø ea. (Diameter of a Coffee Mug). May 14th, 2020, 5:10 pm, Coral Springs, FL, U.S.A.

Paulina DonisTodo el cabello que perdí (All of the hair that I've lost). May 10th, 2020, 8:26 a.m., Cuenca, Spain.

Thomas Bils, Shutterspeed. Oil on Wood. May 8th, 2020, 8:21 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Sebastian D. Muñoz, Twelve Thirty or 3:00. Sound: 1m 50s. May 6th, 2020, 3:12 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Christian AlbrechtNo/Juego. Video: 19s. May 5th, 2020, 12:30 a.m., Oaxaca de Juarez, México.

Jon MilanSnakes and Ladders. Wood, Chalkboard, Chalk. 36" x 20" x 144". May 3rd, 2020, 10:54 a.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Kayla Rodenhiser, Make Time To Make A Tangible Difference. Installation (with Home Ephemera): Personal Planner, Wise Coffee Cup, Fountain Pen, Throat Coat Tea, Recycled Notepad, Cheap Desk. Dimensions Variable. May 1st, 2020, 11:12 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Sabetty Heyaime, Soon. Ballon, Thread, Tape. Dimensions Variable. Apr 30th, 2020, 3:32 p.m., New York, NY, U.S.A.

Giova BrusaRunning Out. Fabric, Thread, Vintage Photograph, Pencil. 18" x 12.5". Apr 28th, 2020, 4:52 p.m., Jacksonville, FL, U.S.A.

Hannah Artman, My Friend Horace. Video: 5m 22s. Apr 27th, 2020, 5:13 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Dona AltemusRerun. Tape, Thread, Yarn, Photograph. 16" x 48". Apr 26th, 2020, 9:16 a.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Carol TodaroRed to Blue (Song of the Storm). Ink-jet Print, Paper, Mica. 7 " x 22 ". Apr 25th, 2020, 12:07 a.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Alexa Lash, Red Bird. Sound: 4m 21s. Apr 23rd, 2020, 2:16 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Red bird, red bird
Fly towards the sun
Oh your wings will carry you home
Red bird, red bird
You’ve just begun          
Oh you won’t take this journey alone
The wind Is strong
Your wings are stronger
You fight the current with your soul
The waves below
They watch you ponder
All the things about this life that you don’t know

Hey red bird, will you watch me fly
Hey red bird, will you watch me soar into the sky
Hey red bird, can I join you high above the clouds
And if we never come back down
Will you watch me cry?
Hey, Red Bird, fly
The view is pretty
Above the Earth
Oh I like what I see from up here
I’ve known this city
Since I was born
But I’ve never seen a picture quite so clear

Hey red bird, will you watch me fly
Hey red bird, will you watch me soar into the sky
Hey red bird, can I join you high above the clouds
And if we never come back down
Will you watch me cry?
Hey red bird, will you set me free
Hey red bird, will you watch me soar into the sea?
Hey red bird, can I join you high above the stars
See meteors and mars?
Or should I say goodbye?
Hey Red Bird Fly
Red bird, red bird
Fly towards the sun
Oh your wings will carry you home
Red bird, red bird
You’ve just begun
Oh you won’t take this journey alone

Hugguette Henao, Zen in Solitude. Apr 22nd, 3:15 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Benjamin Wexler, am i screaming or am i silent? Sound: 1m 22s. Apr 21st, 2020, 7:21 p.m., Long Island, NY, U.S.A. 

Jorge BecerraIt’s like winning the lottery, but bad. Mixed media, 8” x 10”. Apr 19th, 2020, 2:04 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Valeria GuillénLA PAPA CALIENTE O EL PROBLEMA ES QUE ESTO ES UN JUEGO (HOT POTATO OR THE PROBLEM IS THAT THIS IS A GAME). Mixed media, 8" x 8" x 7". Apr 18th, 2020, 9:50 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Sofia del RiveroIf You Can Hear Me, Clap Once. Apr 17th, 2020, 9:50 a.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Marisol Ocádiz, Respuesta (Response). Apr 16th, 2020, 10:16 a.m., Cuidad de México, México.

Ella Raphaëlle Dufrene, Untitled. Apr 14th, 2020, 10:16 p.m., Miami, FL, U.S.A.

Renata S. Rojo, Man. April 12th, 2020, 2:17 a.m., Philadelphia, PA,  U.S.A.

Giannina BrusatinI made a machine that counts the days. Watercolor, Acrylic, and Watercolor Pencils on Paper. Apr 10th, 2020, 6:09 p.m., Bogotá, Colombia.

Chad CunhaWhat do you think I should put down, Saffy? Video: 14m 28s. Apr 10th, 2020, 5:30 a.m., Connecticut, U.S.A. 

Alejandro ValenciaReciprocal Object (for W. Benjamin). April 8th, 2020, 5:31 p.m., Manizales, Colombia. 

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