on the internet
Alternative paths online for art
24 Apr 2020, 3:12 pm
One way or another, the entire visual arts circuit is a little more digitized during quarantine. Since “the circuit” is not a single and homogeneous entity, different agents of this system – galleries, museums, institutes, schools, publishers – move on the virtual terrain during the period of social isolation at different speeds, purposes and intensities. On the one hand, art galleries and art advisory offices boost social networks, making use of lives, takeovers and picks of artists and art specialists to get closer to their audiences. The premise of these new interactions, of course, is to expand commercial possibilities and “brand strength” in the online storefront. Some hasty galleries, however, might end up promoting an accessory treatment of the artists and their works.
On a side line, artists and art researchers, all at home, are also adapting to digital space. Even if lulled by some climate of apprehension, it is reasonable for these players to produce less automated and more questioning responses to the subliminal imperative of productivity in times of pandemic. Roughly speaking, the intensified digitization process will not replace common artistic activities of painting, drawing, sculpting or investigating, in the melee, the physical world.
For a long time, there have been works of art made online and virtual spaces for exhibition or collection. The big news is global quarantine, which places us in front of computer screens and cell phones as if they were the only means of connection with the outside, implying other demands and the invention of different paths for the “online” visual arts from those outlined here. There arise initiatives that carry out a real-time reflection on the limits and possibilities of the renewed pressure of art’s migration to the virtual environment, without the ambition to endure or replace what is necessary.
The covideo19.art platform was born from the encounter and previous dialogue between three independent curators – Bianca Bernardo, from Rio de Janeiro, Cherine Karam, based in Beirut, and Amanda Abi Khalil, also from Lebanon, who has been living in Rio for a year. The desire of them all is to maintain some curatorial practice, research and knowledge production, in the face of the unexpected suspension of projects, commitments and social life. A week after the quarantine began, in two days, the website was already online. The premise is simple: weekly, the curators meet, present and discuss works of Video Art, and define a schedule for the daily posting of these works. Some works were already available on the artists’ websites, other were requested by the curators – what covideo19 seeks is to review or re-present these works to new audiences, almost as an invitation to pause the day and enjoy an artistic language that, albite far away from ideal conditions, can be accessed by the computer.
The periodicity of posting and broadcasting, the brief presentation paragraph and the curatorial angle enclose these works, in addition to the new layers of interpretation suggested under the unavoidable pandemic context. The website is all in English, with a simplified and bold layout, and keeps links to the posted works for fifteen days. The artists and their galleries and / or supporting institution for the execution of the work are tagged on Instagram, and the personal portfolios of the artists are on the link to their mini biography, shared along with the video on the website. It is important to note that that the platform highlights the artistic production of the global South, in this unusual Brazil-Lebanon axis, bringing visibility to the connections that these artistic productions may eventually have among themselves. There is also a concern to balance established artists and other lesser-known names. In the end, the project has an affective and ephemeral footprint, which is intended as a breather, and which should end with the quarantine.
Participants: Alexandre Nitzsche, Alvaro Seixas, Ana Matheus Abbade, André Dahmer, Andrés Brück, ÃO, Bruno Baietto, Carlos Issa, Estela May, Felipe Barsuglia, Flora Rebollo, Gabriel Junqueira, Gabriel Secchin, Germano Dushá, Hanya Beliá, Ingrid Kita, Institute of queer ecology, Julliana Araújo, JUNO, LCUAS PRIES, Marina Benzaquem, Marina Borges, Natalie Braido, Nuno Q. Ramalho, Paola Ribeiros, Rafael Meliga, a haitian, Vitória Cribb, X-TUDO and Yan Copelli
Less pretentious and more experimental: “ainda mt nada” [still much nothing]. Navigation here is intuitive, random, unmanned and without frills. Several crazy icons and gifs float around the page, and when clicked, they open new windows, images, sounds and videos. The idea came from artists Felipe Barsuglia and Yan Copelli, willing to try out some digital tools while they are away from the studio – both usually work with painting, sculpture, making different objects and, every now and then, together with other artists and curators, hold exhibitions independently. In fact, “ainda mt nada” is just a possible way to continue unfolding artistic investigations with related artists. Everyone, regardless of the language they usually work with, is somehow already incorporating the influence of life and the digitized image in their artistic practice: they observe and feel the current demand that the artist needs to be some sort of influencer and entrepreneur of themselves.
Each artist creates what will be displayed within the platform, and is free to add and edit. Participations include cartoonists, fashion designers and also curators, generating important dialogues between different languages that communicate. In this sense, more than showing processes or work already done, most prefer to play with digital tools and invent a kind of work online, which can be borderline memes, with prints that tell stories, photographs and quarantine diaries, drawings and videos with different forms of visualization. The site is now in its 3.0 version, and should receive another update in the coming days, keeping the associations between the participations free and subjective for those who browse. In a way, aindamtnada is a refuge from likes and popularity rankings. In addition, it is symptomatic that these artists, the vast majority without a gallery or marketing support, prefer to invent new ways of expressing themselves at this moment than trying to sell finished works of art.
As the pressure grows and digitalization is increasingly intertwined with our lives, subjectivities and bodies, it is necessary to create options that escape from immediacy and subvert easy marketing logics. From time to time, certain boxes of expectations about the artist’s role bring along aesthetic and behavioral demands, but it is part of the artistic process to problematize crystallized formats and concepts, in addition to being notorious how art can tension limits and open possibilities for the transformation of common places. These strategies are present in the history of art as a whole, in infinite artists celebrated precisely for their poetic irreverence and critical thinking – we can quote quickly and exaggeratedly, for example, the emblematic legacy of a Nelson Leirner, Hans Haacke or Joseph Beuys, who broadened the artistic practice in different instances without asking for much permission. It would be naive to think that new forms of social control will tame artists. Naturally, what are surfacing now are almost the same issues, new display tools, under another guise.