Culture from your Couch: Curate a Virtual Art Gallery

Culture from your Couch: Curate a Virtual Art Gallery
Experience art online, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Creativity running low? Get inspired during the lockdown with a curated art gallery

OT Staff
April 22 , 2020
05 Min Read

As the lockdown carries on, we increasingly seek more interesting and varied experiences to pass the time and ease the blues. The online community has, to a large extent, answered the call with an eclectic catalogue of content being made available to consume, the latest of which is a virtual art gallery initiative started by two New York curators, Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen.

‘How Can We Think About Art at a Time Like This?’ is an online gallery of visual art that seeks to ‘create a platform for free expression during a time of crisis.’ The title of the gallery pre-supposes the question that many people might well have: With the state of the economy, the health crises among the more vulnerable classes, art may well seem ‘non-essential.’ But Pollack and Verhallen’s project is premised on the importance of art specifically at times of crisis. Art functions to hold a mirror to society, to allow representation and individual expression, or at a more basic level, to be enjoyed and facilitate an emotional experience.

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Barbara Pollack has been writing about art for over 20 years, dealing a lot with artists working in repressive regimes with an emphasis on China. She has curated shows at the Tampa Museum of Art, as well as the Long Museum West Bund and Yuz Museum in Shanghai. Anne Verhallen is a Dutch-born American art curator who got her start as a high-fashion model for Vogue, Hermes, and Marc Jacobs. She currently works as an independent curator. The duo reached out to a set of prominent artists from across the globe and, since March 17, have been putting up the work of one artist every day with an accompanying statement about the times and the project itself. The gallery is not operating on a profit motive; the artists are providing their work free of cost in lieu of the global crisis conditions, purely to uphold the importance of self-expression.

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The art that is being shared is not necessarily new, with many artists’ older works being submitted, but the relevance is not lost. One such artist is Miao Ying, a Chinese internet artist and writer. Her featured project ‘Hardcore Digital Detox’ instructs viewers to set their VPN settings to Mainland China in order to experience life behind the government’s firewall where most of the internet’s big name companies, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the like, are blocked. The project aims to highlight how the Chinese public manoeuvre these restrictions in an amusing way.

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Another featured artist is American photographer Accra Shepp. The pictures he has offered on the website are from as early as 2011, but he maintains that these global crises are cyclical. Drawing parallels to the economic crisis of 2008 where the revival of a stagnant economy led to more profits being dropped in the pockets of corrupt bureaucrats and officials, he assumes that history will be doomed to repeat itself in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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