Illustration and Visual Media
Over the last months a new reality has been applied to all aspects of our lives due to the effects of covid-19. The virus has altered our society as much as it has our individual lives. We have already started seeing a gradual application of new norms as well as a new identity taking place. Therefore, it comes as natural for our previously familiar art world to be changing in order to adapt to and serve the needs of a new society.
One of my DPS projects that made me notice and experience this change was my Self Initiated Project. For my SIP I collaborated with Cjaye Newton, a third year student of LCC’s Design for Art Direction taking part in his Final Major Project. The topic we were looking at was how the body experiences anxiety in relation to the concept of free fall. One of the ways we experience an anxiety attack is by loosing control of our limps, loosing sense of orientation, feeling numb. I responded to the brief by creating a soap sculpture capturing this loss of control, numbness and «devision» of our body in parts. The fact that this year’s graduation show will be online needed me to find a way to exhibit this physical sculpture in a digital form in a way that is still impactful even without experiencing it in person. This problem I had to face raised two questions. How has the virus changed and will be changing the way art is exhibited. What kind of art we will be experiencing over the next years.
Since the very beginning of the pandemic we seem a lot more willing to see, experience and invest in art. We are in quest of finding new ways to entertain, educate and destress ourselves and art is the means to do so. Jackie Wullschlager in her article ‘How contemporary art is changing in the Covid-19 era’ includes Darragh Hogan’s, kerlin’s director suggestion that «the need for connection and communication is amplified now, art has a vital role in meeting that.» In the article «Bye bye, blockbusters: can the art world adapt to Covid-19′ the writer Andrew Dickson mentions that «Social media has been part of the art world for a while. But with physical galleries now empty it’s suddenly the sole means for organisations to retain a connection to audiences.» Wullschlager states that «viewing rooms are bringing new work to audiences in isolation with unprecedented rapidity. It is a triumph of contemporary art’s resilience and innovation.» As a confirmation to the above Dickson provides that «Galleries have been experiencing record web traffic: visitors to the British Museum site soared in the early days of the crisis, while the Courtauld Gallery’s virtual tour reported an astonishing 723% spike in visitors in mid-March.» The virus has confirmed the vital role that art plays in our lives but has also suggested that there is a need of finding new ways to exhibited it. While there is room for both physical and digital I believe that virtual reality can be an effective solution for both creating and exhibiting art. Maybe it is still early to talk about a VR driven art world firstly because the concept is relatively new, secondly because of the cost it comes with. However, VR can potentially provide easy access without packing the galleries. It can recreate a sense of space, therefore size, so it can also, ideally, stimulate senses and feelings in a much more effective way than viewing rooms. It doesn’t have to be digital, it can be any kind of physical art exhibited in VR spaces.
In Dickson’s article Frances Morris, director of Tate Modern mentions that «If you look at the great traumatising events of the past – world wars, global emergencies of different kinds – artists have always responded. After the first world war it was dada and surrealism; after the second, existentialism and gestural abstraction. Whatever the work looks like, it’ll be interesting.” Morris suggests that «It’d be great for museums to focus on their permanent collections, the amazing things we already possess.» In the same article the commercial gallerist David Zwirner concurs «It got out of hand, especially the market: crazy auction prices and the rest. The infiltration of value into the perception of art, art being regarded as an asset – all that needs to be rethought.» At the same time Alison Cole, editor of industry bible the Art Newspaper argues «Normal’ was unsustainable… The endless expansion, the mega-collectors, the purchasing of big trophy objects. I think we’re entering a period of less is more. I hope it’ll be less macho.» Finally, in Wullschlager’s interview with underseller Larry Gagosian included in her article, he mentions that «The art market will come through stronger, smarter and more relevant.» Gagosian says «It’s been a sobering experience.» It seems that this exact traumatising event has made us reconsider art and alter the way we process it. It offers an opportunity to reevaluate what constitutes the art world, take a step back, and rediscover forgotten values.
Dickson, A., 2020. Bye Bye, Blockbusters: Can The Art World Adapt To Covid-19?. The Guardian. Available at: <https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2020/apr/20/art-world-coronavirus-pandemic-online-artists-galleries> [Accessed 19 May 2020].
Wullschlager, J., 2020. How Contemporary Art Is Changing In The Covid-19 Era. Available at: <https://www.ft.com/content/25e1fc74-7fdf-11ea-8fdb-7ec06edeef84> [Accessed 19 May 2020].