A Journal of the Year of the Pharmacy

Pablo Helguera
October 15, 2021 – January 22, 2022

Email to Visit the Exhibition by Appointment
Eventbrite Tickets for A Journal of the Year of the Pharmacy (Four Express Scripts and a Preamble)

Exhibition Handout
Exhibition Audio Tour
Exhibition Video
Pablo Helguera – Evanston, November 10, 1989
A Journal of the Year of the Pharmacy Virtual Book Launch

Pablo Helguera’s A Journal of the Year of the Pharmacy is a large-scale exhibition accompanied by a series of performances  that will be on view at the Shirley Fiterman Art Center from October 15, 2021 through January 22, 2022. Drawn from autobiographical materials and diaries, the project investigates aspects of the self as a portal to larger issues to which we are all connected, including our past personal histories, shared cultural contexts, education, work, and social interactions.

Helguera’s work has often engaged in diaristic practice— the highly intimate and vulnerable communication that tries to make sense of a particular moment in both personal and collective ways.

A Journal of the Year of the Pharmacy is a project that explicitly falls into this category. The project, a direct reference to Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, was developed over the course of the Covid pandemic period. Defoe’s oft-cited work during the Covid-19 pandemic is actually a fictional narrative of the effects of the Plague written 60 years after it occurred; it is nonetheless a vivid description of a social and health crisis that resonates with our contemporary experience of the current pandemic.

Of this time period, the artist has written:

“What this highly introspective moment appears to be generating, and what it might result in, is in the construction of a new localism as both a form of building resilience”, “ (…) a re-encounter with the local and the meaning that we might extract from it.(…) We have no choice but to rethink locality, to engage with our immediate domestic lives, with our own microhistories, with the world that is only a walking distance from where we are confined, and have them as a point of departure. It is a new world very distant from the globetrotting days of 2019.”

Divided in four installations and accompanying monologues connected to the artist’s reflections during the period ranging from March of 2020 to the present, the exhibition reflects on topics such as the role that geography plays in our personal lives, our desire for escapism, the complexities of cultural identity, walking as a process of learning, and the psychology of those who play a supporting role in the arts.

The installations, consisting in period re-creations, museum display strategies, video, and works on paper and canvas, include Colonia Nápoles ( referring to the neighborhood where the artist grew up in Mexico City), Chamber Music (about the relationship between the aesthetics between XIXth century classical music and contemporary art), Evanston (about the artist’s school years in Chicago) and The Art Technician’s Syndrome (an installation about the artist’s reflections as a museum educator for three decades).

Each installation includes an audio component which will be presented in a live performance format on October 15, 22, and 29 at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center at BMCC.


Pablo Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a New York based artist whose work focuses on a variety of topics ranging from history, pedagogy, sociolinguistics, ethnography, memory, and the absurd, in formats that are widely varied, including the lecture, museum display strategies, musical performances, and written fiction. His project The School of Panamerican Unrest, a nomadic think-tank that crossed the continent by car from Anchorage, Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, making 40 stops and covering almost 20,000 miles, is considered a pioneering work of socially engaged public art. From 1991 to 2020, Helguera worked as an educator and director of programming at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, and then at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. He is currently Assistant Professor of Arts and Entrepreneurship at the College of Performing Arts at the New School in New York.

Helguera has exhibited or performed at numerous venues, including the Museo de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; ICA Boston; RCA London; 8th Havana Biennal, PERFORMA 05, Havana; Shedhalle, Zurich; MoMA P.S.1, New York; Brooklyn Museum; IFA Galerie, Bonn; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo; MALBA , Buenos Aires, Ex-Teresa Espacio Alternativo, Mexico City; The Bronx Museum; Artist Space, New York; and the Sculpture Center, New York. He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as grants from Creative Capital, Franklin Furnace, and Art Matters.

Helguera is represented by Kent Fine Art in New York and Enrique Guerro Gallery in Mexico City. He is also the author of many books, including Education for Socially Engaged Art (2011) and The Parable Conference (2014) and he writes a weekly column titled Beautiful Eccentrics.

Visitors must make an appointment in advance and must comply with all COVID requirements. Everyone is required to upload their vaccination status or recent negative COVID test to Cleared 4, via an emailed link upon their request to visit. In all instances, visitors must confirm that they have received an email from Cleared4 with the QR confirmation code that will allow them access.
All information must be uploaded at least 72 hours in advance and approved confirmation must be presented at the door. Visitors must also wear a mask and socially distance throughout the entire time they are on campus regardless of vaccination status.