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COVID-19 Fever Dream

Alexander Zastera

Covid-19 Fever Dream: The illegal download of your soul, 2020

Mixed media on Canvas

8’ x 10’


Pictured as a pink and otherworldly, sunrise scream, Covid-19 Fever Dream: The illegal download of your soul is an internal and external historical record of the events of 2020. The composition framed as a giant skull, centers on a self portrait of the artist cutting off their own head with a crystal obelisk, releasing the pent up spiraling energies of the body into the environment. Wading in ankle deep water at dawn on Miami Beach, the figure references the Hindu goddess Chinnamasta, “she whose head is severed” and is the embodiment of transformation, resolving contradictions and shedding of ego. 


Around the centralized figure are multiple figures and objects and smaller allegorical scenes that allude to events through 2020. The left hand side of the painting reflects on the history and current turmoils of the United States of America. Children held behind a fence reference the Homestead ICE detention center where migrant kids taken from their families are held. A large iguana, a symbol of invasive species in South Florida looms over them in confinement with a road sign reading “Stolen Land” referencing another 2020 artwork made by the artist Misael Soto as part of their Signs series. 


The left bottom corner of the shore line hints at political turmoil and “crabby” crowds, throughout the summer, as the public took to the streets to protest: black lives matter, masks, and city opening policies. The title of the painting references the Phlake album “The illegal download of your soul” which talks about a virus in a positive light as a catalyst for change.  While wading through so much tragedy, finally so many of the societal issues that were being swept under the rug are now having to be discussed honestly on a global stage. 


In August of 2020 Biscayne Bay reached its tipping point and Miami saw massive fish die offs due to the lack of oxygen caused by rising water temperatures and nutrient pollution. Strewn across the shore line is plastic pollution, dead sea life, and a hunk of coral with a canary attached by arrow, playing on the phrase “canary in a coal mine” where the dying off of the corals is acting as an alarm for human activity that is heating and increasing the acidification of our oceans. The climatic and environmental aspects of the work are further explored in the oil rigs looming on horizon. Cruise ships release distress flares while being attacked by a kraken, mermaids lock eyes in bliss while a water spout rages, becoming a combat field for a mother daughter shark riding duo battling the world’s largest shark fin shipping industry hub: the port of Miami with measure SB 680, criminalizing the shark fin trade in Florida. 


The purpose of the painting is facilitation of tough conversations around purging. What societal behaviors do we need to shed? How are we tending to our human relationships, with each other and our self? How can we channel chaos in a productive way? Death always leads to the next chapter. Time to normalize reality and transform.

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