In these uncertain times, art is one of the few outlets that remains widely accessible though digital spaces. Here are some of the galleries and events using industrious methods to bring photographic experiences online, reminding us of the value art has in offering an emotional outlet and validating our feelings – especially during difficult moments.
Words by Eleanor Scott
We’re already months into the global COVID-19 crisis, which has prompted lockdown measures that have forced galleries and art institutions to close their physical doors. Thankfully, for our own sanity and that of everyone around us, many of these institutions are proving that arts and culture don’t stop when we can’t go outside – they simply go digital. With that in mind, we’ve put together a short but sweet list of some of the photography exhibitions you can now escape into when the four walls of your house start to feel too familiar.
No digital encounter can fully emulate the physical experience of visiting an exhibition, but if one platform comes close it’s Artland. Using VR technology, the innovative space for “sourcing and trading art that moves you” also hosts a number of 3D shows that allow you to navigate exhibition spaces in a similar way to how you would if you were there in person. Blending sculpture, photography and film, Mariken Wessel’s ‘Nude – Arising From The Ground’ is inspired by the material qualities of the human body and, despite its corporeal roots, translates particularly well via the virtual world.
Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie 2020
German photo festival Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie launched on February 29 but had no choice but to close on March 17. The organisers have now opened the six thematic exhibitions entitled ‘The Lives and Loves of Images’ as a free series of virtual reality tours. Works by Joan Fontcuberta, Sohrab Hura, Josh Murfitt, Kensuke Koike, Bryan Schutmaat, Sherrie Levine and more explore the inner workings of images and our relationship with them to reflect the extremes of contemporary society. If you happen to be fluent in German, you can also view some of the previously recorded lecture series which focuses on the dialogue between science and photography via the Youtube channel of Heidelberg University.
PHmuseum is a curated platform dedicated to contemporary photography that has been dominating the world of digital exhibitions for a while now. Every year they invite more than 60 photographers to show works in their online gallery space in collaboration with special curators. They’re currently showing ‘Falling’, which presents the images of eight photographers from all over the world and thematically centres around the ties between love and the photographic. Argentinian photographer Gustavo Sagorsky’s ‘Sonia’ series is particularly impactful, featuring over 20 years of pictures of his partner that allow the viewer to “observe how their relationship evolves through the years, the physical changes of Sonia, and the continuity of love and respect between them”.
Another highlight is ‘My Father’s Legs’ by Sara Perovic. Inspired by an off-hand comment by her mother about how she was first attracted to Sara’s father because of his legs, Sara then began photographing her own partners limbs in various tennis crouches during their daily life together. The series is full of cheek, and is also fantastic inspiration for art projects you can do while in self-isolation.
Google Arts & Culture
Google Arts & Culture is another platform that has been showcasing the digital works of museums and art institutions long before social distancing became part of our everyday vocabulary. They have over 500 virtual tours, exhibitions and collections available, including iconic images by Nan Goldin via MoMA’s Contemporary Galleries: 1980–Now, as well as LIFE Magazine’s visual chronicle of the ‘American century’ and Gordon Park’s ‘A Harlem Family 1967’, which was published in LIFE’s 1968 special section on race and poverty. The series offers a “searing look at the daily struggle of one impoverished Harlem family, the Fontenelles”.
Circulation(s) European Young Photography Festival
CIRCULATION(S) is a French festival dedicated to emerging photography in Europe. Over the past decade they have acted as a stepping stone for many young artists by promoting innovative contemporary creativity. With the 2020 edition unable to go ahead, the team has instead chosen to implement a sort of ongoing ‘artistic telegram’ project in place of their original programme. From Minsk and Paris to London and Barcelona, the 45 festival artists are now participating in an ongoing digital correspondence of images intended to maintain their creative link during this unprecedented situation. It’s an interesting take on community-based visual storytelling that harnesses the immediate power of social media and you can follow their updates via Instagram.