Petzel is pleased to present Doomscrolling, an exhibition of woodblock prints by the artists Zorawar Sidhu and Rob Swainston, on view at the gallery’s Upper East Side location from January 6 to February 12, 2022. Doomscrolling, a relatively recent activity induced by disturbing, perhaps mind-bending, current events, is “the act of spending an excessive amount of screen time devoted to the absorption of negative news. Increased consumption of predominately negative news may result in harmful psychophysiological responses.” This exhibition takes its title and inspiration from this newly diagnosed and addictive compulsion.
At the start of the pandemic “I went out every morning on my bike and was photographing Manhattan, but it was empty,” says Swainston, who, like most of us, was experiencing all the hope, anxiety, and fear about everything that was happening in 2020. “We were just like everyone else, obsessed by consuming images of it. All of a sudden, plywood went up on buildings around the city and then I realized the potential of it: Letting something that happened in 2020 be carved onto the plywood used to cover up Manhattan.” Swainston and Sidhu collected approximately 120 sheets of plywood. “We are depicting events that are dirty and messy. Having the plywood distressed is a part of the story.
Doomscrolling is comprised of 18 moments between May 24th, 2020 and January 6th, 2021, the day of the insurrection at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. These dates are tied to iconic images and specific events: The May 24th New York Times cover “U.S. DEATHS NEAR 100,000, AN INCALCULABLE LOSS”; the next day George Floyd is murdered; the day after that the protests begin; Kyle Rittenhouse shoots three people during the protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Donald Trump holds the bible upside down after the D.C. Park Police teargas a group of peaceful protesters; the militarized police vehicles; the protestors with their hands up.