Prints da internet por Kenneth Goldsmith (Foto: divulgação)

Guerrilla Archive

Felipe Molitor
3 Apr 2020, 3:26 pm

Galleries and museums around the world fight for their “likes” and “shares”. The avalanche of art related content created or promoted online over the past few days has taken on unimaginable proportions, and art enthusiasts are even beginning to feel a certain FOMO-like anxiety – the “fear of missing out”, a syndrome coined by psychiatrists (who would have thought!) in the year 2000.

The UbuWeb portal may sound like one of these brand new digitization initiatives, but for the era of the internet, it’s almost like a grandpa. The pioneer and free platform emerged in November 1996 and continues to operate in the same way today: a huge collaborative archive of experimental and cutting edge art, dedicated mainly to video art, sound art, and visual poetry. The site was founded by American poet and critic Kenneth Goldsmith, who for his contribution and strong commitment to the visual arts, was the first poet to be honored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York, MoMA, in 2013.

Because it is a vast deposit of gems, the site is a darling of artists and art researchers. There are thousands of videos, audios and texts by hundreds of artists and theorists from all over the world. There you can find video works by Laurie Anderson, Hito Steyerl, Maya Deren, Pipilotti Rist, Francis Alÿs, Chris Burden, Richard Serra, John Akomfrah; documentaries on the art of Philip Guston and Pablo Picasso; a bank advert made by Salvador Dalí; seminars and interviews by theorists such as Alain Badiou, Jacques Lacan and Theodor Adorno; among Brazilians, there is a lot of material on concrete poetry around the Irmãos de Campos, Décio Pignatari, Edgard Braga and Pedro Xisto, Oswald de Andrade’s Revista da Antropofagia, Walter Smetak’s compositions and the only film directed by Caetano Veloso. The tabs to open are never ending!

UbuWeb also operates under the scope of digital activism for the democratization of access to art, since it works independently. The site does not advertise, nor does it sell works of art, and it makes available works that do not always respect copyright (but can be removed if requested by the artist). Even so, the platform receives support from several North American universities for its dissemination. Even in the aesthetic aspect, maintaining the same layout since its foundation, the site preserves the desire for guerrilla in the digital territory, increasingly colonized by large corporations.

Kenneth Goldsmith em sua exposição individual na LABOR, em 2013. O mote da mostra era um só: imprima o máximo de páginas da web que conseguir e envie para a galeria. (Foto: Janet Jarman / The Washington Post / Getty Images)

Kenneth Goldsmith in his solo show at LABOR, in 2013. The motto of the show was just one: print as many webpages as you can and send them to the gallery. (Photo: Janet Jarman / The Washington Post / Getty Images)

Read below a sort of manifesto from the platform, keep this story for the museums of the future, and enjoy the link while it exists:

Let’s imagine Utopia: a world with no copyright, no fair use, no micropayments, no royalties, no profits, no losses, no attribution, no licensing, no property. Let’s imagine a world without money; in fact, let’s imagine that money doesn’t exist: nobody touches it; nobody pays, & nobody gets paid. Let’s imagine a world with no grants, no government support, no Kickstarter campaigns, no fundraising drives. Let’s imagine a world with no advertising, no mailing lists, no promotional blasts, no coercion, no donation boxes. Let’s imagine a world with no bureaucracy, no boards, no patrons, no committees, no lawyers, no agents, no contracts. Let’s imagine a world with unlimited hard drive, unlimited server space, unlimited bandwidth, no ISP bills, no download throttles or limits; a world with no captchas, no wait times, no nefarious profit-driven cloud-based lockers. Let’s imagine a world with no numbers, no stats, no download counters, no clicks & no clickthroughs. Let’s imagine a world where it doesn’t matter if there are three visitors daily or three hundred thousand. Let’s imagine a world where the content on a site is too arcane, too confusing, & too intellectual for any government to understand it (and by extension, to censor it) yet it contains the most radical ideas, politics, & sexuality imaginable. Let’s imagine artworks that function outside of normative capitalist modes, their value being more aesthetic & more historical rather than economic. Let’s imagine a world where decisions are not made by committee or popularity, with no regard for accountability & authority; a world where representation is subjective & eccentric, where choices are made on intuition, hunch, feeling & guesswork; let’s imagine a world that embraces risk, uncertainty, instability, unreliability & whim. Let’s imagine a world bereft of historical argument, in fact, let’s imagine a world without argument at all. This is UbuWeb; this is paradise now.”


Felipe Molitor is a journalist and art critic, part of the editorial team at SP–Arte.

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