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For Dear Life is the first historical survey of artistic responses to sickness, health, and medicine broadly. The show is informed in part by MCASD’s position in San Diego County, a hub for health science research as well as biotech and pharmaceutical industries.
In the past decade, the art world has witnessed an explosion of artistic activity surrounding issues of illness, disability, caregiving, and the vulnerability of the human body. Set in motion by the emergence of movements for disability justice, this activity accelerated with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet since the 1960s, artists have negotiated and deflected the medical gaze, creating works that assert agency in the face of medicalizing labels and that highlight the role of care in producing new forms of community and healing. Increasingly, artists have come to locate illness and disability not in individual bodies, but as part of a web of interconnected societal, environmental, and historical conditions.
Top: X-Ray Woman in Bathing Cap, 1966