The Broken Timeline @ distant.gallery
Published on May 9th, 2022
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The Broken Timeline (TBT) presents historical exhibition projects that were curated online. Inevitably partial and subjective, TBT burrows back in time to present a lineage of web-based curatorial projects that are too often unseen, neglected or ignored by the mainstream artworlds and their discourses
curated by: Annet Dekker, Marialaura Ghidini, Gaia Tedone
part of distant.gallery
18 April 2022 // special event on Monday 9 May with some of the artists and the curators
with: Sabine Hochrieser, Michael Kargl, Franz Thalmair, Sakrowski, Rebecca Birch and Rob Smith, Mary Meixner, Chiara Passa, Miyö Van Stenis, Krystal South, Guido Segni and Matìas Ezequiel Reyes: Sebastian Schmieg and Silvio Lorusso, Marialaura Ghidini and Rebekah Modrak, Martine Neddam, Emmanuel Guez and Zombectro, Nina Roehrs & Damjanski
The Broken Timeline (TBT) presents historical exhibition projects that were curated online. Inevitably partial and subjective, TBT burrows back in time to present a lineage of web-based curatorial projects that are too often unseen, neglected or ignored by the mainstream artworlds and their discourses.
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Come and Join! Monday 9 May, 1pm (CEST), The Broken Timeline will be fixed.
Together with Curating YouTube (@webpilgrimage), Fit Art (@roehrsboetsch, Damjanski), The Recombinants (@MartineNeddam), Gallery.Delivery (@sebastianschmieg; @silvio.lorusso), #exstrange (@marialauraghidini; @gaia_tedone), Beautiful Interfaces (@miyovansteniss), ScreenSaverGallery (@Maria_Cz_03), @aaaannet and a special performance by @constantdull we will explore the depths of online exhibitions.
From The Broken Timeline, the past will be reinterpreted, contextualized and performed through storytelling and facts&figures.
Thanks to Valiz for supporting this show
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Background *** info on TBT
Confronted with a wide range of practices, TBT formulated the following criteria:
• Prioritise projects that are web-specific, for instance, which propose intricate navigation or interaction modes, or misuse existing platforms;
• Disregard exhibitions that follow the conventional logic of ‘vitrine’, archival repository or straightforward display, and instead focus on attempts that challenge how online art is experienced;
• Exclude collaborative projects that resemble artworks, even though the boundary is often fuzzy;
• List organisations engaged in a series of curatorial projects by the organisation’s name rather than as individual projects.
TBT is broken for a number of reasons. Firstly, because of the limits of our particular experience, geographical knowledge and network. Secondly, many links to historical projects don’t function anymore and users are redirected to ‘404 Not Found’ messages. While some projects were meant to be visible only for a specific period, most cease to exist after a while because they’re no longer maintained or updated and, more generally, due to technological obsolescence, which condenses the endurance of online content to the ‘survival of the fittest’. Thirdly, the role of the curator or, curating as a practice, has become fragmented. The complex relation between human behaviour and machinic processes is deeply embedded within the continuously evolving socio-technical ecosystem. In such an environment it is not always clear who or what propels a project that reshapes the function, tasks and values of curating. For this reason, a historical-technical timeline complements TBT, which charts some of the most significant web and Internet developments that influenced the aesthetic, spatial and temporal conditions of curating online. Finally, TBT is a response to as much as it is a reflection of the gaps between different curatorial discourses, primarily between (new) media curating and contemporary art curating. Underlying this ‘curatorial digital divide’ is a different notion the role of technology plays when it comes to art and online curatorial practice. Thus, broken means you’re not always in control.
In a sense, the year 2020 has become exemplary of this divide. As a result of the global pandemic and its local lockdowns an unprecedented migration took place in which museums and galleries – compensating for the lack of access to their physical spaces – started organising their activities online. The move resulted in an overabundance of online exhibitions, virtual tours of collections, and talks that were live-streamed on social media platforms. Yet, in the midst of this frantic transition, a number of art and curatorial projects that had engaged with the web conceptually and curatorially in recent years, decided to pause their activities. This discord underscores the opposing views on how art (or curating) on the web, and more generally technology, is understood: as a tool to mimic the practices and dynamics of the white cube, or as an ecosystem in which cultural, economic, social and technical dimensions converge and hence changes the definitions of art and curating.
TBT emphasises how the web is not only a tool or a medium, but a socio-technical culture that has enriched and transformed curatorial and art practices with new ways of creating and co-creating, sharing and viewing, questioning traditional concepts and notions of authenticity, authorship, ownership, and relations between curators, artists, institutions and audience members. As such, it presents examples of how curating on the web is an evolving practice and an endless space in which critical questions are posed about the rules of curating and the environment where it is taking place, with the aim of reinventing those very rules and modes of practice. While TBT is another attempt at narrowing the divide, it merely presents a sliver of the scope and the potential of curating on the web.
*TBT is part of Curating Digital Art. From Presenting and Collecting Digital Art to Networked Co-curation, edited by Annet Dekker and published by Valiz, Amsterdam https://valiz.nl/en/publications/curating-digital-art
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