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‘It’s almost like science fiction’: artists share their experiences with the coronavirus We spoke with artists in the US and Europe about how Covid-19 has so far affected them and their work, from cancelled exhibitions to concerns about the future

19th March 2020 21:59 GMTMore

“Last week I had the weirdest experience I think I ever had in my life,” says the Bay Area sound artist Bill Fontana, who returned this week to shelter in place at his San Francisco studio after the coronavirus pandemic shut down his solo show at the Kunsthaus Graz. On Wednesday 11 March “they had a private view, it went great,” he says. “And then Thursday morning we wake up and find out that the Austrian government has closed all the museums.”

Fontana returned to California on a British Airways flight that held only 50 passengers, all of them American citizens. After filling out a questionnaire on the plane and being checked out by a government worker once he disembarked, Fontana was allowed to leave the deserted airport and head home. And while he was “heartbroken” when he first found out about the closure of his exhibition, which included a massive 64-channel floating sound and video installation in the main museum space and a media archive spanning his 50-year career, he hopes the show will be extended when the museum reopens. In the meantime, he continues working in San Francisco on current and future projects. “I’ve got also a huge archive,” he says. “I’ve been working for more than 50 years, so I have to really organise that when I have spare time.”

Bill Fontana: Primal Energies at the Kunsthaus Graz was only open the preview night before Austria shut down all its museums

Bill Fontana: Primal Energies at the Kunsthaus Graz, which was only open on the preview night before Austria shut down all its museums Photo: Universalmuseum Joanneum/N. Lackner

Fontana is among the many artists who have been affected by the actions taken to contain the spread of Covid-19, which quickly reached the level of a global pandemic this month. Those we talked to shared their experiences of cancelled projects, concerns about the long-term impacts, and the ways they are coping with the social isolation that has become as much a symptom of the disease as a means of taking precautions against it.

It already feels very disconcerting, very unsettling, and a real portent of what we’re about to face

Matt Adams, a member of the British art cooperative Blast Theory, is well versed in viruses and pandemics. In 2018, he and his colleagues were the first artists to take part in a residency on contagion at the World Health Organization in Geneva, and last fall they staged a Spit Spreads Death parade in Philadelphia to remember local victims of the 1918 Spanish influenza crisis.

After all his medical research, Adams finds the current coronavirus crisis deeply unnerving. The 1918 pandemic, he notes, killed at least 50 million people. “What’s fascinating now is that with very few actual deaths in the US and the UK, it already feels very disconcerting, very unsettling, and a real portent of what we’re about to face.”

He and his fellow artists, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj, have closed their Brighton studio and are working from their homes while communicating via Slack and through video calls. He has remained in touch with other artists as well. “I think that there’s a curiosity I’m feeling from other people, which is, a moment like this has the potential for a significant social reconfiguration–it’s bound to leave a very deep mark on society,” he says. “We’re looking out for one another, but there’s also a sense that we’re going into one of the most significant moments for our generation of understanding what society we live in. It’s almost like science fiction, a moment when all orthodoxies are up for question.”

Blast Theory's show A Cluster of 17 Cases, features a milled aluminium model of the ninth floor of the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong where the SARS virus spread overnight in February 2003

Blast Theory’s show A Cluster of 17 Cases, features a milled aluminium model of the ninth floor of the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong where the SARS virus spread overnight in February 2003 Courtesy of the artists

Suspensefully, given the abundance of museum and gallery cancellations across the globe, the Blast Theory artists are still hoping that an exhibition of their interactive work at the Rijksmuseum Boerhaave in Leiden in the Netherlands will open as planned on 16 April: “A team will come in [to the studio] to package that up and ship it next week,” Adams says. The show, titled A Cluster of 17 Cases, is to feature a milled aluminium model of the ninth floor of the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong where the SARS virus spread overnight in February 2003.

What are the things that make us feel safe?

The artist Trevor Paglen is meanwhile hunkering down in his New York studio, contemplating the indefinite postponement of a solo show of his work at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni (OGR) gallery in Turin, Italy that was to have opened on 12 March. (The art was half installed, he says, when the show was deferred.) Paglen said he was using the time to take “a much deeper dive” into some research he has undertaken for his art projects, which often centre on themes such as surveillance, data collection and the mapping of power.

Trevor Paglen's postponed show Unseen Stars at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin was to have included his Orbital Reflector art satellite project

Trevor Paglen’s postponed show Unseen Stars at the Officine Grandi Riparazioni in Turin was to have included his Orbital Reflector art satellite project

While keeping in touch with his larger studio in Berlin, Paglen says he is also pondering some philosophical questions. One theme is safety, “which seems apropos at the moment”, he says. “What are the things that make us feel safe in a very broad way?”

“I’m trying to take this as an opportunity to look at the world and think, ‘What are all the things we do almost by default, that don’t have to be?’ and to reassess what’s important,” Paglen says. “I’m trying to not panic and not despair and instead take the time to ask questions about what it is we are doing and what we want to be doing.”

I am focusing on very small formats… it is exactly this kind of concentration I am searching for in my current situation here in quarantine

Amid a quarantine in Brescia in Italy’s Lombardy region, an artist residency program in the 13th-century Palazzo Monti is coping with the withdrawal of four participants who were due in March and another two who were due in April, leaving just one resident artist from Germany remaining.

Two of the artists withdrawing fled overnight back to their homes in Israel and France on 8 March after hearing that a lockdown was to be put in place, according to Edoardo Monti, the founder, and director of the residency. A planned group show has been postponed from 14 March to June.

Maximilian Arnold is the only artist remaining in residency at the 13th-century Palazzo Monti in Brescia, and he has kept up working while under quarantine

Maximilian Arnold is the only artist remaining in residency at the 13th-century Palazzo Monti in Brescia, and he has kept on working while under quarantine

The remaining artist, Maximilian Arnold, says that the isolation has enabled him to “concentrate fully without pressure and any distraction” on the art he planned to execute during his residency. “Right now, I am focusing on very small formats, which I haven’t been doing for almost five years, and it is exactly this kind of concentration I am searching for in my current situation here in quarantine and hopefully may transform into a certain kind of density in these small paintings,” he says.

At the same time, he hopes that when he returns to his studio in Berlin, “there will be support for artists and creatives to cope with the immense damage as we are naturally one of the first who suffers economically”.

Vanessa Thill, a New York freelancer who is primarily employed by other artists, shares this concern. The artists she works with “have been generous in wanting to make sure to still compensate me, but many of their shows and projects are being postponed and no one is really doing business right now. Exhibitions and talks I had planned to participate in during April have all been postponed indefinitely,” she says. “I’m lucky to have a home studio, so the one upside is having more time to make work.”

But the bigger lesson the coronavirus has revealed is “how we were all hanging on by a thread”, Thill says. “So many people have absolutely nothing to fall back on. I am deeply worried, but also starting to think about how we can rebuild our society from the rubble of this, and what radical new forms can we usher in. Right now people are calling for aid for workers and small businesses, for stopping evictions, freezing rent. Things that seemed politically out of reach but were needed before are now absolutely urgent.”

This really forced to think about how the experience can be non-physical or detached from a physical presence

The social practice artist Pablo Helguera (whose Artoons regularly appear in The Art Newspaper) was in Providence, Rhode Island when the university he was teaching at decided to immediately shut down. It was on a mostly empty Amtrak train back into New York that he came up with the idea of offering to read stories over the phone to anyone who needed to hear a friendly voice. “I came of age as an artist at a time before the internet launched—I feel like I’m part of the last analog generation,” Helguera says. “My instinct as an artist is always to connect physically with people, and that’s also what I do as an educator. My whole life has been about talking about art or experiencing art with people directly. And that’s why I am interested in performance, face-to-face interaction.” But such encounters have become impossible under the threat of the coronavirus, as people are forced to stay home, avoid large gatherings and stay at least six feet away from one another in public.

“This really forced to think about how the experience can be non-physical or detached from a physical presence,” Helguera says, adding that this was especially difficult since the art world has always been “very suspicious of distanced experiences”. So he began to think of other forms of proximity and decided on sound since it was such an important element of his life, coming from a family of musicians. “It can be a very intimate experience, it’s a very personal thing that we can also record,” he says of hearing the sound of another person’s voice.

The decision to work with a narrative was natural, Helguera adds. “Stories can have great power—even if they don’t explicitly address what you’re going through at that moment, we’ve been through things like this in the past, through 9/11, and hurricanes and earthquakes.” And since posting his offer on Facebook last week, he has been happily inundated with requests. “I’m reading stories to kids, I’m reading stories to people that I hadn’t talked to in decades,” he says. “It’s actually been really beautiful. And of course, whenever I call someone, they might be in London or they may be in Mexico, or they may be in like California, they just tell me what’s going on through their minds.”

The experience is also already informing his future projects, and instead of canceling a performance lecture that was meant to take place in May at the now-closed university in Providence, he is trying to find a way to continue to hold a performance “completely alone in the theater”, Helguera says. “Maybe there will be other ways in which I can connect with the audience.”

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Arts Council England announces coronavirus crisis plan to compensate out-of-pocket artists and institutions

Source: theartnewspaper.com

Gareth Harris 3 minutes


The Sedgwick Museum in Cambridge is one of the beneficiaries of the Arts Council England’s grants programme © Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences

Arts Council England (ACE) has announced an action plan to help the UK’s culture sector withstand the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, including helping artists and freelancers who may lose money as a result of the pandemic. The long-term aim, say ACE officials, is to have as “strong a sector as possible when we come out the other side of this crisis”. Crucially, it also warns that “if you are a public-facing venue you may have to close for a period of time”.

ACE, an arms-length non-departmental public body, invests money from the government and the National Lottery fund in arts and culture initiatives and institutions across England, encompassing museums and libraries.

In a statement, it says: “We will refocus some grant programmes to help compensate individual artists and freelancers for lost earnings. This will require further planning. It may take about ten days before we can announce the details.”

Meanwhile, the National Portfolio Organisations and Creative People and Places groups—the arts bodies funded by Arts Council England—will continue to receive financial support, though funding conditions and requirements will not apply for at least three months with immediate effect. “We can also advance grant payments to assist with cashflow,” ACE says.

ACE’s measures sparked a flood of responses on Twitter. The Florence Nightingale Museum in London says: “It’s going to be a challenging time for our small charity. We were planning for a bumper year celebrating Nightingale’s bicentenary. Instead we will struggle to recoup investment and face big overheads.”

“This is just the start,” says ACE, which stresses that it is collecting intelligence from across the sector, so “we can understand what is needed”, adding that “we are in constant conversation with colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport about the short and long-term financial implications”. The Arts Council of Wales says it will publish its coronavirus strategy on 17 March.

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Editors’ Picks: 8 Things Not to Miss in the Virtual Art World This Week | artnet News

Source :news.artnet.com

Sarah Cascone, March 16, 2020 7-9 minutes


Each week, we search New York City for the most exciting, and thought-provoking, shows, screenings, and events. This week, in light of the global health crisis, we are highlighting events and exhibitions available digitally. See our picks from around the world below.

Monday, March 16

Supplies in an artist's studio. Photo by Stephane Grangier/Corbis/Getty Images.

Supplies in an artist’s studio. Photo by Stephane Grangier/Corbis/Getty Images.

1. Livestreaming Panel: Artists In a Time of Global Pandemic at Howlround Theatre Commons

It is a particularly scary time to be an artist right now—most are freelance workers with no health insurance or sick pay. That’s why Howlround Theatre Commons has organized a panel of experts to discuss how COVID-19 is having an impact on freelance artists from all disciplines, and where they can find support. Listen in for tips about how to take your work virtual, how to seek out emergency funding, and how to save smartly in a time of crisis. Panelists include Mark Rossier (director of grants at the New York Foundation for the Arts) and Avita Delerme (senior counsel at The Public Theater), among many others. The event will be livestreamed with ASL and captions.

Time: 8 p.m. EST

—Julia Halperin

Through Saturday, March 28

2. “Robert Morris: Voice 1974” at Castelli Gallery 

The physical exhibition, which is open by appointment only, re-stages one of the artist’s rarely presented audio installations along with preparatory drawings and diagrams. By making sound a key element in Voice, the artist “challenges the expectation that a work of art must be material, visual, and actively created by the artist,” according to a statement. The gallery is also presenting video of a recent panel discussion of the show, moderated by Pepe Karmel with Mónica Amor, Christophe Cherix, and James Meyer.

Location: Castelli Gallery, 25 West 40th Street, New York
Price: Free
Time: The gallery is open by appointment only. Panel discussion available on the Events page.


—Eileen Kinsella

Opening Wednesday, March 18

A man walks past a billboard for the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong's biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors with thousands of visitors expected over the next five days. Photo by Philippe Lopez courtesy of AFP/Getty Images)

A man walks past a billboard for the Art Basel art fair in Hong Kong on March 13, 2015. Hong Kong’s biggest art fair, Art Basel, opened its doors with thousands of visitors expected over the next five days. Photo by Philippe Lopez courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.

3. Art Basel Online Viewing Rooms VIP Preview

In February, after more than a month of concerned letters from exhibitors and collectors, Art Basel cancelled its Hong Kong fair due to the novel respiratory illness that had ravaged the region for months. While a major disappointment for the fair’s parent company, it was seen as a necessary step, and one that could be offset with alternative buying platforms. Enter the Online Viewing Rooms, a series of portals accessible from your living room that would open the same week the Hong Kong fair was supposed to take place, with the galleries offering the exact same works they were had been planning to bring. Basel’s directors could not have imagined that their timing would be so tragically relevant: when the viewing rooms open to VIPs Wednesday, most of the collecting world will be in self-quarantine, and even if if they might not be in the mood for art shopping, they might be thirsty for a some sense of normalcy.

Time: Beginning 6 a.m. EST

—Nate Freeman

Thursday, March 19–Saturday, April 25

Ella Walker, The Inscription Over the Gate (2020). Courtesy of Huxley-Parlour.

Ella Walker, The Inscription Over the Gate (2020). Courtesy of Huxley-Parlour.

4. “Ella Walker: Cosmati Floor and Wax Fruit” at Huxley-Parlour 

A medieval, carnivalesque atmosphere suffuses the canvases of London-based painter Ella Walker. Rich with color and historical references—from Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath to Commedia dell’arte—these images collapse contemporary time into long-ago histories that seem bizarrely relevant today. See the suite of intriguing work online, here.

Time: 24/7

— Katie White

Through Saturday, April 4

Installation view of "Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde" at the University of the Arts, 2020. Photography by Joseph Hu. Courtesy of University of the Arts.

Installation view of “Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde” at the University of the Arts, 2020. Photography by Joseph Hu. Courtesy of University of the Arts.

5. “Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde” at University of the Arts, Philadelphia 

In conjunction with a physical exhibition that opened across four campus buildings on January 20, the University of the Arts has created a rich online resource that digs deeper into the story of Philadelphia’s cutting-edge contributions to visual art, music, architecture, and other disciplines between the years 1956 and 1976. In addition to images of the works themselves, the institution has compiled a dynamic chronology of events in Philly’s avant-garde community during that span, as well as more than a dozen video interviews with key players in the scene. Exploring any or all of the above gives new insights and fresh context to a city that, as the exhibition’s title indicates, is too often overlooked in the development of postwar American art.

Time: 24/7

—Tim Schneider

Through Sunday, April 19

Srijon Chowdhury, Pale Rider, 2019. Courtesy of Foxy Production.

6. “Srijon Chowdhury” at Foxy Production

Srijon Chowdhury’s first solo show in New York opened at Foxy Production during Armory Week, and despite the closures of galleries across the city, it was enough of a highlight that it’s worth catching it on the gallery website. Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Chowdhury’s saturated paintings of flowers are often framed with botanical or architectural elements. The result resembles religious tableaus or prayer cards, while the intensity in which Chowdhury applies color gives the canvas an almost fluorescent look. “Color affects a person viscerally and quickly,” the artist has said. “I think about the chakras which begins with crimson that roots us to this reality and this body.” Also included in the exhibition are portraits and scenes from parenthood and an enormous 16-foot-wide oil painting titled Pale Rider.

Time: 24/7

—Cristina Cruz

Through Sunday, April 26

Aki Kuroda, <em>Space Magic</em> (2019). Photo courtesy of Richard Taittinger Gallery.

Aki Kuroda, Space Magic (2019). Photo courtesy of Richard Taittinger Gallery.

7. “Aki Kuroda: Happy Boy in Manhattan” at Richard Taittinger 

Aki Kuroda (1944–) has never had a solo show in New York before, but he’s renowned in his native Japan, where he became the youngest artist to get his own exhibition at Tokyo’s National Museum of Modern Art, in 1993. The curator, Yoyo Maeght has been friends with Kuroda for 40 years, since Kuroda’s first exhibition in France in 1980. The gallery is currently closed, but you can enjoy a virtual walk-through of the show from Eazel.

Time: 24/7

—Sarah Cascone

March 15, 2020-ongoing

8. “Savage Beauty” at Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture 

A rural stretch of Ireland’s Connemara mountains were meant to be the site of “the largest site-specific light artwork ever created” as part of Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture program, and while the live event was cancelled, the show lives on thanks to the internet. Flemish artist Kari Kola’s installation is comprised of 20 kilometers worth of cables attached to 1,000 lanterns powered by some 16 generators, many of which were put into position via helicopter. Oscar Wilde once referred to the rugged terrain of Connemara as a “savage beauty,” inspiring the work’s title, and as pubs and bars close in Ireland (and far beyond) due to the global health crisis, we can all toast St. Patricks Day remotely while we take in the luminous video.