As the Covid-19 epidemic emerged, so too did an abundance of how-to hand washing videos. Starting in late January 2020, one in particular played on a continuous, hypnotic loop in the dining hall that my partner and I shared with hundreds of others in Singapore. Always running, hands in motion, suds, instruction, rinsing, sensation, ablution. My partner's and my time as artists-in-residence in Southeast Asia transformed into one of sheltering-in-place for months on end. With a hazard so invisible and communicable, and within a global mesh where everything is shared, the significance of safety, of self, and of contact became more pressing and at the same time more difficult to discern. The ritual choreography of hand washing became deeply embedded in our bodies and minds over those months, while forms of protection, isolation, and communion continue to mutate.
Andrew S. Yang, with Christa Donner
How to Wash Your Hands,
Andrew S. Yang was a featured artist in the Spencer Museum’s 2019–2020 exhibition knowledges. Yang’s commission explored notions of Earth and the many ways to know and imagine it. The result was a massive installation titled Theory of the Earth Volume IV that included towering sculptures made of books and objects from collections across the University of Kansas. Yang participated in the 2019 Integrated Arts Research Initiative (IARI) colloquium and Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) national conference. He was also a contributor to the Museum’s publication Inquiries.