“Quarantine Hysteria” in Is It A Good Time Online Screening @Mana Contemporary

Streaming from Friday, March 5 through Sunday, March 7

The events of 2020 have tremendously affected the lives of everyone in the United States, and more so that of noncitizen residents. To address pertinent bio-political issues related to the pandemic and to reflect on the prolonged period of time under the lockdown, Mana Contemporary presents Is It A Good Time?, an online screening featuring 33 artists from all over the world residing in the United States. To accommodate viewers from the artists’ home bases and a broader global audience, the screening takes the form of an Internet TV and will be streamed nonstop and on repeat for 72 hours.

Is It A Good Time? is organized by Define American artist fellow Maryam Faridani and Chicago-based curator Nicky Ni. Special thanks to Orr Menirom and Angeliki Tsoli who gave their time to guest juror the artist submissions. A full curatorial statement can be found here.

*We are working on a variety of ways to support the organizers and participating artists who have self-funded this project. If you are able to help in that support, please consider contributing directly through Venmo: @IsItAGoodTime.

Belinda Adam, Mahsa Biglow, Ellen Bjerborn, Sofía Brockenshire, Jiayi Chen, Manos Dimitrakis, Setareh Ghoreishi, Diana Guerra, Vesper Guo, Mayar Hamdan, Vinay Hira, Hua Xi Zi, Rae Yuping Hsu, Sami Ismat, Amay Kataria, Hailing Liu, Rodrigo Moreira, Cheryl Mukherji, Peng Zuqiang, Renana Neuman, Peixuan Ouyang, Ruby Que, Jenny Rafalson, Jorge Rojas, Rey Velasquez Sagcal, Juna Skënderi, Iván Sikic, Zachary Sun, Ziyang Wu, Chengan Xia, Cherrie Yu, Alejandro Junyao Zhang, Jiaqi Zhang

Screening Work: Quarantine Hysteria, 2020.

Is It A Good Time? Curatorial Statement

We do not know what to make of 2020. COVID-19 struck, not only coinciding with other natural disasters but also further complicated by a chaotic government. If coping with difficulties caused by the pandemic, such as the fear for traveling, lack of job security, and enduring the distance from family members was hard enough for a regular citizen, these conditions are but a constant struggle that every noncitizen living in the United States has to cope with on a daily basis. The pandemic-induced governmental policies cast additional threats for them, from stricter restrictions on work visas, policy changes for asylum seekers, to attempting to oust foreign students and to cut off their lifeline communication.

It was under these conditions that we sarcastically asked ourselves, “is it a good time?” With half frustration, and half resignation, we conceived this project. Not only do we hope it pieces together glimpses of the immigrant experiences which we both share and understand, but we also want to support all the individual artists by creating room to showcase their works.

In November 2020, we conducted an open call that welcomed all noncitizen artists residing in the United States to submit a work of moving image art preferably completed in 2020. We have received over 80 qualified submissions, out of which we selected 33 impressive works and curated them into thematic programs. These programs include: “Quarantine Diaries,” which comprises of short and intimate videos made during the lockdown; “Against the Grain,” which addresses experiences of immigration and dislocation; “Home Tapes,” with videos and films that talk about parents and family; “Dreams,” which are dreamy videos or videos that indicate certain states of mind; “Breaking News,” with videos that mimic the news; “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” which is composed of works about or for dancing; “Afternoon Meditation,” a durational performance; and lastly, “Evening Show,” of videos suitable to consume in the evening.

This is not the first time we are collectively under lockdown, but it is the first time that such experiences are massively expressed and shared through the Internet. However, when we need to conduct everything–work, study, entertainment, procrastination, and whatnot–all through one bright, flat screen, any more information from it seems to be a burden. It is for this reason that we chose to take advantage of an Internet TV that streams live. Each program of the day would be repeated four times, or every six hours. This model accommodates better viewers from different time zones, so that every program could be viewed more-or-less during the designated time of the day at any location. We also offer liberty to the viewers as to how you prefer to watch the program. You could binge watch throughout the night, or engage absent-mindedly during the day; if you miss something, no worries, it’s likely going to be repeated.

We thank the two guest Jurors who helped us review and select all the submissions. They are artist and filmmaker Orr Menirom, originally from Israel and is currently based in NYC; and multidisciplinary artist and educator Angeliki Tsoli, originally from Greece and is currently based in Athens.

Finally, your kindness through a small donation to our Venmo account (@IsItAGoodTime) is greatly appreciated. All the proceeds will be evenly distributed to participating artists.

Sincerely yours,
Maryam Faridani & Nicky Ni