image of the Labor Camp book

Book Launch: Piotr Szyhalski / Labor Camp’s COVID-19: Labor Camp Report

In support of the Piotr Szyhalski/Labor Camp’s COVID-19: Labor Camp Report exhibition currently on view at Mia, join professor and artist Piotr Szyhalski, professor, artist and writer Colette Gaiter, and Mia curator Gabriel Ritter in a conversation moderated by Courtenay Finn, Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) and one half of publisher Frank. Stay after the conversation to meet the artist; a limited number of books and Labor Camp prints available for purchase at the Store at Mia.

Watch the Conversation

About the book

In collaboration with Frank —a new publishing platform— artist Piotr Szyhalski’s daily COVID-19: Labor Camp Report has been transformed into a book. By taking the form of a printed publication, Szyhalski’s timely and important drawings offer us a way to remember and reflect on not just the past year, one marked by the coronavirus pandemic and an incredible reckoning happening across the globe. Organized chronologically, the COVID-19: Labor Camp Report book features lushly printed, large-scale images of each drawing, including never-before-seen sketches, newly commissioned essays and reflections on the work, as well as all the artist’s texts written as part of his daily Instagram posts. The book embodies Szyhalski’s ceaseless and diligent practice, one that continues to provoke, confront, comfort, and inspire its audience. His ongoing Instagram posts continue to gain hundreds of likes, comments, and followers, sparking interest from around the country and the globe, asking for more. Deeply inspiring, Szyhalski’s work offers a space to confront the complexity, uncertainty, and absurdity of our current moment, all the while reminding us of the importance of compassion, criticality, and change.

About the speakers

Gabriel Ritter assumed the role of Curator of Contemporary Art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) in May 2016. Since that time, he has overseen major touring exhibitions including When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Art & Migration (2020) and Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters (2017) and organized ambitious reinstallations of the permanent collection galleries including Now Where Were We? (2016-17) and the co-curated Mapping Black Identities (2019). Recent projects at Mia include Rituals of Resilience (2020, co-curated w/ Chaka Mkali) and Piotr Szyhalski: COVID-19 Labor Camp Report (2020). In addition to the exhibition program, Ritter is responsible for growing and diversifying Mia’s Contemporary Art collection, with increased focus on female artists, artists of color, and those who openly identify at LGBTQ+. Ritter holds a Ph.D. in art history from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he also earned his M.A. in art history.

Piotr Szyhalski is a Polish-born, U.S.-based multimedia artist who established Labor Camp—an ongoing art project that includes interactive components (digital and physical), original music, performances, videos, printed ephemera, texts, a blog, and an archive of online resources. Moving between fine arts (painting, photography, drawing, installation), sound, media art, and design, Szyhalski’s multilayered works often explore communication/exchange, extreme historical phenomena, and relationships between the individual and society/history/time. His work has been exhibited worldwide at such venues as the International Center of Photography, the New York Expo Film Festival, Siggraph, ISEA Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the San Jose Museum of Art, and Experimenta Design in Lisbon, Portugal, and featured in a variety of catalogues and publications. Pieces are in the collections of the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and others.

Colette Gaiter is a professor in the departments of Africana Studies and Art & Design at the University of Delaware. She previously taught at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, the University of Minnesota, and Columbia College Chicago. After working as a graphic designer in New York City, she became an educator, artist, and writer. Her visual work, which has been exhibited internationally, ranges from digital prints and artist books to websites and interactive installations. Since 2004, Gaiter has written about former Black Panther artist Emory Douglas’s work, including his current international human rights artist activism. Her essays on his work appear in the books Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglas and West of Center: Art and the Counterculture Experiment in America, 1965–1977 as well as journals and other publications. The 2019 book Art, Global Maoism and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Manchester University Press) includes her essay on Douglas’s work and its relationship to international Maoism in art. Gaiter’s writing and visual work always investigate creative activism.

Courtenay Finn is a curator and writer based in Cleveland. She is currently the Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa) and one half of Frank, a small publishing imprint for artist projects. Prior to her time in Cleveland, she was Senior Curator at the Aspen Art Museum (AAM), where she organized thematic exhibitions such as Lost Without Your Rhythm, Gravity & Grace, The Revolution Will Not Be Gray, and The Blue of Distance as well as solo shows of works by Margaret Kilgallen, Yto Barrada, Haris Epaminonda, Mickalene Thomas, Anna Sew Hoy, and Alice Channer.