Six (Linear) Feet

Project Overview

This project, launched by the ONE Archives at the USC Libraries, invites artists to respond to the now ubiquitous usage of the phrase “6 feet,” reflecting on its meaning both literally and symbolically. Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic, scientists and public health officials have called for social distancing. Though recent research suggests that six feet may be an arbitrary distance, it has become the standard for how far apart humans should remain so as not to pass the virus from person to person. Signage to communicate “proper social distancing” suddenly appeared everywhere—in grocery stores, shops, and places of work—creating a new graphic landscape to influence/dictate human behavior. 

Six (Linear) Feet takes up this rhetorical/practical phrase, asking artists to respond to and reflect upon its usage and its appearance in our everyday landscape. Though measurement is thought to be universal and precise, it is more context dependent than generally perceived. The title of this project, Six (Linear) Feet, refers to the way space is often measured at an archive, where linear feet refer to how much front shelf-space boxes or a collection will take up. This is essential information when planning for collections and determining if their size will fit the confines of storage. Six feet can be a lot or a little, too much or not enough. Measurements depend on context. 

The call is for artists to probe these measurements and how they relate to the body, our daily habits, and our interactions as humans. How has the call for 6 feet of separation changed our conception of space and distance? In our newfound world of distance, how do we approach touch and proximity? How do we build community and resilience from 6 feet apart? How can distance and display bring us together? How do we work with this new constraint upon daily living? Are there lessons to be learned from queer time and space? 

Over the course of this spring, 6 artists will share their work through works in progress conversations/studio visits and a final showcase in May. Click on "Meet the Artists" to see each artist and their project!

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