Rebecca Wilton

“When You’re on the Net, Are You Lost? Or Found?”

Gerry Schum: Fernsehgalerie, SFB/WDR, 1969–70; Shutdown Program, Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, April 2020–ongoing; Sophie Thun: Stolberggasse, secession, Vienna, 30. 4. – 21. 6. 2020; #SMH Bildwanderung / Picture Walk, Sprengel Museum Hannover, April 2020– ongoing

Screenshot of Sophie Thun, Stolberggasse, secession, Vienna, 2020

Over the course of the corona pandemic that spread throughout the entire world during the first half of 2020, and the subsequent “shutdowns” affecting most parts of public life, it soon became clear that spaces of art and culture aren’t considered to be “systemically relevant” (and, therefore, weren’t allowed to stay open). But how would a complex system like the art world, including firstly the artists themselves followed by all the institutions representing them, museums, galleries, project spaces, public collections, book stores, et cetera, be able to continue their work without physical exchange with society? During the first weeks of staying-at-home, many artists expressed that they weren’t in any kind of state to just hold on to their daily working routine as they had before. At the same time, some other kind of “virus” seemed to be disseminating across the institutional art world; one could call it “virtual overactivity.” No matter which web page or social media account you accessed, almost all museums and galleries seemed to be providing some extra content for their users. Different kinds of online formats have been pushed forward with overwhelming speed. Online exhibitions, guided tours, discussions, presentations, and interviews kept flooding the Internet, and it felt quite challenging to follow up or even to get an overview in the first place.

Some institutions have presented a comprehensive digital program for many years already, like Rhizome for the net art genre or Fotomuseum Winterthur for a connection between analogue and digital artworks in their “Situations” format, both digging deep into the possibilities of digital representation and presenting contributions of virtual art—whereas others had to start off at a different level. In fact, the spheres of virtual representation of an artwork and of digitally originated art need to be distinguished carefully. These days, they have come together in an interesting way, revealing the nucleus of an ongoing physical/virtual discussion.




Find the complete review in Camera Austria International no. 150/151 | 2020, pp. 119/20