In response to the coronavirus, it seems that the entire world has come to a halt.
As the art world is no exception, closed exhibitions, delayed fairs, and shuttered galleries have forced the community to embrace the digital pivot and move online.
Emerging as the short-term solution, various industry leaders have taken to the internet to fill this experience gap.
Louise Bourgeois, "The Family," Courtesy: © The Easton Foundation/VAGA at ARS, NY and Hauser & Wirth
At the forefront of this shift was Art Basel Hong Kong, which launched online viewing rooms after cancelling in February.
Other galleries have similarly begun to use virtual offerings to attract buyers.
Hauser & Wirth represents one of these galleries, opening their first ever online exhibition featuring Louise Bourgeois’s drawings.
In regards to reframing digital content as the main focal point, gallery co-founder - Iwan Wirth - stated,
“The digital content was there to support the analogue experience. We’ve now turned it around. But how sustainable is it? That’s the question.”
The question of spatial significance has been called into question with the closing of galleries. In response to this change, Sadie Coles views this as an opportunity to re-evaluate the role of the gallery:
“I am sentimental about having a space in which I present the unlike works of an artist.”
Coles has also taken this opportunity to launch a new Instagram project titled Answers from Isolation, which discusses upcoming changes in the art world with artists and collaborators.
Beyond virtual galleries, organizations are exploring how game spaces and virtual reality could bolster artistic experiences. Hastings Contemporary, a gallery based in Hastings, UK, began offering 5-person gallery tours via a two-wheeled videoconference machine, in partnership with Bristol Robotics Lab.
Hastings Contemporary Gallery Robot Tours
The demand for these Robot Tours has been so overwhelming that the gallery has had to prioritize booking for individuals who are most at risk due to isolation.
Occupy White Walls, a multiplayer online (MMO) game, has taken a different approach, developing a program that allows users to create a fantastical art gallery.
Similar to other gaming platforms, such as The Sims, players have the opportunity to construct gallery-resemblant spaces and fill them with artworks of their choice.
The waves of disruption that are impacting the art world during this time are requiring the industry to respond.
Although it is traditionally a platform that enhances “in-the-flesh” experiences, the internet has been adapted to be the current focus of the art world.
*partially sourced @ www.frieze.com
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