Hosted by Art Curator Grid and SALOON London in conjunction of The Plus Partnership series
Moderated by Mara-Johanna Kolmel
Speakers: Julia Greenway & Noelia Portela
This conversation was broadcasted live on Zoom on December 17, 2020
Postponing physical exhibitions has become quite regular since the beginning of the pandemic. At the same time, in the art world, everything else has suddenly become urgent. Covid-19 has cracked open so many issues that were invisible, taboo or hidden by the long-established status-quo of the Western art world that we have probably been debating more now than ever before. Sanitary, economic, social, and political crisis have been pressing us to create new digital alternatives as well as encouraging us to come face-to-face with our greatest challenges.
“Curating the Digital” was the second webinar of Art Curator Grid’s The Plus partnership series, which took place on December 17, 2020, and gathered curators, art professionals, and enthusiasts globally to tackle pressing topics of this current moment. Visibility, social and cultural equity, public reach, accessibility to technology, and funding opportunities have become burning issues of our times. Curators Julia Greenway and Noelia Portela, who have been curating online exhibitions and experimenting in the digital realm, addressed these topics alongside the public during the second edition of the Curators Conversation on Zoom.
This Curators Conversation was organized by Art Curator Grid in partnership with SALOON London, a professional network for women in the arts with the objective of creating an open forum to exchange ideas, experiences and initiate collaborations. Its members range from curators to artists, advisors, gallerists, academics and journalists. SALOON London is part of an international network of SALOONS in Berlin, Barcelona, Brussels, Dresden Hamburg, London, Paris, Prague, Tel Aviv and Vienna. SALOON London was co-founded in July 2019 by curator and art historian Mara-Johanna Kolmel - who was the moderator of the Curators Conversation, as well as Natalia Fuller with Mariana Lemos recently joining the team. Curator Julia Greenway takes part in SALOON’s community and was the first guest to speak about her work.
Originally from Detroit Michigan, Julia Greenway focuses her curatorial practice on how digital media influences the aesthetic presentation of gender, economics, and environment. She walked the participants on Zoom through her most recent projects such as “UWU Channel Radiance”, a result of a nine months curatorial research that she undertook in Cubitt archive. She worked alongside a programmer to create an algorithm of the archive. The show started in February in London, but it closed in March and artist Gery Georgieva and her started talking about how they could make it accessible during confinement. The outcome is the online exhibition “Gery Georgieva: Sybil's Noon Shower of Stones”.
Julia Greenway has been working with ephemeral installations and thinking about how she can archive and give life to intangible artworks. She also presented “Semelparous”, a site-specific installation by Joey Holder in the pool and spa of the now-closed Springhealth Leisure Center. “The translation to its online version was really successful and that is how it continued to have a life since it’s been closed”, said Greenway during the live Zoom.
Today, she is working on SPUR WORLD, a residence created by two artist-run organizations based in the UK Chaos Magic and D UNIT. SPUR is a virtual residency and platform for digital artists in which all residents who participate work as self-created avatars. Greenway is working on how to create engagement between the sixteen core residents and the public in this very unique platform. She is also working on “Make me up”, a virtual exhibition of a video work by Glasgow-based artist Rachel Maclean.
Paris-based independent curator Noelia Portela was the second guest to present her work during the live Zoom. She is a member of Art Curator Grid and has recently curated the online exhibition "Cobra-Cega" by Brazilian artist Wirsrah Villefort built with Art Curator Grid's new Exhibition Tool. She told us her first experience with “Curating the Digital” was at the beginning of the Pandemic when she invited several artists to do Instagram Takeovers at Persona Curada, a non-profit experimental curatorial project she founded to foster Latin American Contemporary art, in conversation with the French art scene. Although she is excited about the potentiality that the digital realm brings to the art world, she emphatically stated that one of the biggest challenges of going digital is audience management. “It is up to us as curators to mediate those issues. We need to push for inclusivity and access”, said the curator during her presentation.
When asked by mediator Mara-Johanna Kolmel about what it means to work as a curator with the pressures of this moment, Portela explained that the pandemic created a crack for visibility. “I don’t think the digital by itself will change the broken parts of the art world. It is something that needs to happen at the same time as the discussion of other topics like decolonization or representation of minorities”, says Portela.
Mara-Johanna Kolmel concluded this lively conversation by sharing some resources that she finds useful to navigate in the digital realm and make it more accessible. While Culture Solidarity Fund, Stiftung Kunstfonds and Das Kustbüro can be good resources about funding for projects, other platforms such as Hubs, Second Life, Area for Virtual, VR Chat and, last but not least, Art Curator Grid Exhibition Tool offer great possibilities to create exhibitions online.
Watch the full webinar: