Art in these times of lockdown and social distancing and galleries with doors even more firmly closed than they so often were in the time before the virus. virtual Journeys on line and zooming around and what we look at dictated to by whoever is holding the camera doesn’t really work. Badly lit virtual tours via social media platforms certainly don’t work, haven’t seen a decent virtual exhibition yet. Yes art should embrace technology, but trying to replace or reproduce the act of standing in an actual gallery and being able to see that texture, to engage with that paint, those marks, those hundred and thousands of moments, those decisions that make up a paining, taking the time you need to select what you look at, to drink in, to focus? I (almost) like our own slide show approach with the Cultivate on-line shows, we’re not trying to be clever, we’re not trying to reproduce the physical gallery experience, we’re trying to keep it simple (and we’re certainly not assuming everyone has the latest state of the art computer). It is quite a battle to get painters to give us something more than just a flat image, to get it right, the slide show approach when the images are very very (very) carefully selected almost works, but we do need proper gallery walls and our own time and space to make our own decisions about how long we look at something, about the pieces we choose to linger in front of just a little bit longer, we certainly need to walk around sculpture or see the scale or dimension of a painting, being told how big or small it is doesn’t really work.
So we haven’t done the Five Art Things over on the Organ pages for a while, not really done it since the lockdown, we haven’t been to an actually art gallery ourselves since the middle of March, the last time we were in a gallery was to take down our own show just days after it had opened. Are there five things to actually recommend? Shall we do it again? There’s certainly been a lack of art coverage on the Organ pages in recent weeks.
We are working on out next Cultivate on-line show, it “opens” next week, we have some exciting new artists involved, new to us anyway, this will be the eighth on-line show we’ve done since the Red show back in February, 2017 – explore them all here, we haven’t take nany of them down – the latest on-line show, or indeed the next one aren’t reactions to the lockdown, they were something we were doing anyway, they’re not intended as replacements, just something that fits in alongside what we regularly do in physical spaces. When the seventh show, #43Artists, opened back on April 2nd we did little more than announce the “opening” time and the date, the time the show would go live, it did feel exciting though, it did feel like an event, it always does when we open on-line shows, we had around 7,000 views in the first hour, we had lots of communication, we had one or two people posting photos of themselves on their socail media feeds, drink in hand in front of their computer screens, it did feel like a shared experience, they all have. One month on and the #43Artists show has been viewed well over 40,000 times now, people are still visiting on a daily basis – people go to the page, run the slide show, some share the link, tell others about it, others contacted the artists involved directly, the point was to point you at the websites of the artists involved. The open night felt good, people commented or sent us messages on social media, people left comments underneath other people’s comments on our social media feeds, people connected with each other, followed artists on Instagram, it seemed like enough, it was how we intended it to be, simple, easy, not a replacement, not an attempt to reproduce something, just another tool, another way – no, not even another way, just something simple that works, it appeared to satisfy everyone.
The next Cultivate on-line, (Far from the) Turmoil opens on line next week, 8pm (UK time), May 14th, Thursday evening if you’re in this part of the world, or maybe morning if you’re on the other side of the planet. But things are a little different this time, this time people are asking us if there will be a zoom thing or a Team thing or a Hangout thing, people are asking if we can all “meet” on line on the opening night and I guess it is an option that appeals to some – we could all brush our hair and zoom around and grab a drink and artists from Austria or Yorkshire or East London or San Francisco could virtually meet each other as well as the audience, but no, we’re not here to replace things, it just doesn’t appeal to me, you don’t need to see mug (or whatever I carefully replace behind me) on your screen, you don’t need to seen me to her or him, you need to see the art,. True, I do miss the social gathering that is an opening night can be, it feels strange to not be going out to openings three or four times as week but no, i don’t want to zoom with you and no, your virtual tour isn’t working for me….