Art and Survival in the Age of Pandemic

​By Anthony Romero, Daniel Tucker, and Dan S. Wang
Contributions from Kimberly Bain, Sandra de la Loza, Cheryl Derricotte, Design Studio for Social Intervention (Kenneth Bailey and Lori Lobenstine), Erin Genia, Pato Hebert, Damon Locks, Kelli Morgan, Karthik Pandian

Lastgaspism: Art and Survival in the Age of Pandemic is a collection of interviews, critical essays, and artist portfolios that consider matters of life and death having to do with breath, both allegorical and literal. Bringing into mutual proximity the ecological, political, public health, and spiritual crises of our time, this book considers the compounding nature of these events and their impact upon one another. Whether seen in the police choke murders that gave rise to the “I Can’t Breathe” slogans of the movement for racial justice, the life-taking and life-remaking COVID-19 pandemic, the white supremacist revolts propelled by fear of demographic suffocation, or the climate emergencies that have instituted near-permanent chaos, the act of gasping for breath is starkly exposing the either/or that stands before us: either we breathe or we die.

Through the recognition of indigenous wisdom, demands for institutional reform, proposals for new social arrangements, the rethinking of care work, the adoption of Buddhist-influenced practices of mindfulness and compassion, and other creative modes of engagement, cultural workers are responding to the most pressing issues in contemporary life. Lastgaspism offers a framework to help us make sense of the interlocked crises of the unfolding present and asks with critical optimism what can happen in this time of transition.

Anthony Romero is a Boston-based artist, writer, and organizer committed to documenting and supporting artists and communities of color. Recent projects and performances have been featured at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha), the Blue Star Contemporary (San Antonio), the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston) and the Mountain Standard Time Performative Art Biennial (Calgary, Canada). Publications include The Social Practice that Is Race, coauthored with Dan S. Wang, and the exhibition catalogue Organize Your Own: The Politics and Poetics of Self-Determination Movements, which he edited. He was a 2019–20 fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Romero is currently a Professor of the Practice at the School of the Museum of Fine Art at Tufts University.

Daniel Tucker works as an educator, artist, writer, and organizer developing documentaries, publications, exhibitions, and events inspired by his interest in social movements and the people and places from which they emerge. His recent projects include Power Map with Mural Arts Philadelphia and Confronting Enemies with A Blade of Grass (New York). His writings and lectures on the intersections of art and politics and his collaborative art projects have been published and presented widely, and are documented on the archive miscprojects.com. He is currently an assistant professor and the founding graduate program director in Socially Engaged Art at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia.

Dan S. Wang is an artist currently living in Los Angeles. He was a founding keyholder of Mess Hall, an experimental cultural space in Chicago, and currently works in the collaborative vehicle Now-Time Asian America. Recent projects include commissioned works for the Station Museum (Houston) and Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia). He exhibited A Ragbox of Overstood Grammars, a retrospective of eighty-plus letterpress prints at Fonderie Darling (Montreal) in 2020. His art writings have been published internationally in book collections, museum catalogues, and in dozens of artist publications. He is an artist in residence at 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica. He holds an undergraduate degree in religion.


Kenneth Bailey is the cofounder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI).

Kimberly Bain thinks, writes, teaches, and speaks on Blackness from the 19th century to the contemporary moment.

Sandra de la Loza is a Los Angeles artist with a research-based practice.

Cheryl Derricotte lives and makes art in San Francisco.

Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and organizer.

Pato Hebert is an artist, teacher, and organizer.

Lori Lobenstine is the program design lead and cofounder of the Design Studio for Social Intervention (DS4SI).

Damon Locks is a Chicago-based visual artist, educator, and vocalist/musician.

Dr. Kelli Morgan is professor of the practice and director of curatorial studies at Tufts University.

Karthik Pandian is an artist who works in exhibitions and public interventions to unsettle the ground of history.


Ostensibly a project to outline the challenges of making art and surviving during the trials of a pandemic, this must-read from the long-running Chicago-based art-book publisher Soberscove is also an important cohering of how our current picture fits into a larger portrait of our society.—Michael Workman, Newcity

Header and thumbnail images: Pato Hebert, Untitled, Lingering series, 2020–21. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.