Remai Modern Installation view. Photo by Carey Shaw.
A project by Dawna Rose and Betsy Rosenwald

Journal of the Plague Year(s) is a series of collaborative installations and paintings on post-consumer cardboard begun in response to the pandemic and toxic politics of 2020. The project’s title pays homage to Daniel Defoe’s 1722 book, A Journal of the Plague Year, billed as “observations or memorials of the most remarkable occurrences […] in London…” It is especially appropriate, as the project begins with our own observations and memories during a most remarkable year—the year the entire world shut down. March 2020 was a time when Covid science was virtually non-existent and we were still washing our groceries. The work that emerged from our shared studio was a visceral response to the urgent events unfolding around us.

The first Journal of the Plague Year exhibition took place at 330g in Saskatoon (by appointment with mandatory masks during COVID lockdown) from February 1–28, 2021. On view amidst the fallout from the 2020 US election and the January 6 insurrection, this installation marked the beginning of our traveling road show. As the “Plague Year” morphed into years, the project continued at residencies at Pouch Cove Foundation, NL; and Saskatoon galleries AKA artist-run centre, PAVED Arts, and The Gallery/art placement.

From November 19, 2022 through March 5, 2023, we shared a record of the journal to date and painted a 40 x 12 ft mural on climate crisis as artists-in-residence at Remai Modern, Saskatoon. The exhibition included an 8 x 8 x 4 ft hand painted Tampax Box (a reference to the supply chain shortage of women’s products) that functioned as a gift shop selling postcards by donation. Visitors of all ages were invited to make their own signs on cardboard. Numbering in the thousands, the signs were added to a section of the show titled “And Another Thing.”

As unrest continues and escalates around the world, Journal of the Plague Year(s): 2020-2023 reminds us that art is an important tool for both personal and collective action.

Interested in exhibiting all or part of Journal of the Plague Year(s)?
Journal of the Plague Year(s): 2020-2023

A Project by Dawna Rose and Betsy Rosenwald

Price: $29.95 CAD
Format: Hardback
Number of pages: 80
Number of images: 240
Publication date: 2023-02-03
Measurements: 9.5 x 11.75 inches
ISBN: 9781896359977

Photographs by Dawna Rose, Betsy Rosenwald, Paige Adrian, Troy Mamer, John J. Penner and Carey Shaw. Text by Dawna Rose, Betsy Rosenwald, Joan Borsa, Joseph R. Wolin and Michelle Jacques.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and SK Arts.

Canada Council for the Arts / SK Arts