Artist Jonathan Sims.

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Song for Sickness (2020)

LEDs, lenses, transparency film, DMX controller and dimmers, wood, canvas, dichroic acrylic, mylar 8x12x18 feet
Commissioned for Light Windows by the Holocenter
Flux Factory, Queens, NY


A Song for Sickness began as a desire to represent the immense emotional energy I expended during a period of self-isolation in the first ten days of quarantine, desperately asking the universe for intercession and wellness to alleviate my symptoms and anxiety. It is also an inheritance of the countless prayers and spells that human beings have devised over the millennia to ask the universe for healing or strength to accept the potentially permanent changes that the virus could bring as a new norm in my life.

The work is about the constant evolution that every individual undergoes throughout life, and the unique beauty in that growth. This durational nature of the piece is punctuated by a collage of abstracted symbols that represent our psychic reverberations to these changes.

Though this piece came about in a moment dominated worldwide by a single virus, my intent is for this invocation to gather energy to all people for whom illness is a part of their lives. I also want to acknowledge those currently at greatest risk, whose tenuous existence is even more precarious because of the failures inherent under capitalist institutions. These include the chronically ill, those with compromised autoimmune systems, the elderly, the caretakers, and the workers--all of whom are being asked to make sacrifices to uphold the very economies and institutions which have already been failing them. I ask viewers to not only consider this work as a potential conduit for healing, but as a meditation on the complex relationships with sickness experienced by all human beings.