About The Airborne Transmission Installations
Each site-specific installation consisted of a repeating pattern of surgical style face masks sewn to white cotton fabric rectangles. The ephemeral flags, suspended on riverside fences at socially distant intervals and visually activated by passing breezes, subtly deteriorated from the effects of seasonal weather changes during the installation, a physical expression of exhausted emotional states as the “CoVid Winter” of 2020-21 wore on. The historic mill buildings and continuous flow of the Hoosic River at each site provided encouraging reminders of the endurance of the North Adams community.
The white flags, international symbol of ceasefire, recalled the flu pandemic of 1918, when female volunteers hand-sewed stacks of white cotton masks for medical use and personal protection. The commercially available surgical style masks, sourced at a local grocery store, were manufactured in the People’s Republic of China, where the SARS-CoV-2 virus first appeared. These two items, synthetic masks superimposed on cotton, reflected our interconnected global economies and the evolution of personal protective equipment since the last massive global pandemic.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for CoVid-19 is primarily transmitted through airborne droplets. Our digital atmosphere is additionally filled with invisible airborne transmissions: Data and evidence. Conspiracy theories and political opinions. Thoughts and prayers. One intention of a prayer flag is that the movement of wind spreads compassion. My intention for these installations was the creation of meditative, memorial spaces for all that has been lost due to COVID-19. I hope they acted as gentle, visual prompts to keep community safety in mind, and compassion in heart, as we endured the difficult seasons of this pandemic.
The prototype installation of Airborne Transmission, located at the Hoosic River North Branch Spillway, consisted of 16 masks suspended on 83' length of fencing located behind the historic Eclipse Mill in North Adams, MA. It was installed from July 2020 until all mask wearing mandates in Massachusetts were lifted in 2021.