Beijing Debate + live Q&A | Video by Crossmark | 51:56 mins
Beijing Debate key summary:
These times of physical distance have propelled a re-thinking of values within art institutions.
The pandemic has fast-forwarded the use of new digital mediums such as Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality.
Art institutions can no longer act locally without thinking globally.
The Beijing Debate 51:56 mins, is moderated by Summit founder Anneliek Sijbrandij and featured the Summit’s museum partners:
04:07 – Beatrix Ruf, curator based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
12:50 – Philip Tinari, director of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing, China
15:58 – Daniel Birnbaum, director of Acute Art in London, United Kingdom
27:10 – Panel discussion
46:32 – Live Q&A
The Debate continued the discussion on one of Jessica Morgan’s 2020 Resource Hungry questions centred around HOPE: “Can we reassess the spaces, habits, structures and systems of culture to find new ways to operate and new ways to experience?” The panellists discussed the relationship between the pandemic, climate change and new technologies: the Covid-19 virus made us realise that we are all connected as humans, and most importantly that the changes made in art institutions due to the global pandemic, can also be used to fight against the climate crisis. We all have to get used to a much more virtual world, exploring the connection between new technologies and sustainability.
These times of physical distance have propelled a re-thinking of values within art institutions, emphasizing the need for more care and intentionality in the systems of culture in which they operate.
Beatrix, who co-designed the format of the inaugural Verbier Art Summit in 2017 as director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, reflects on how the pandemic has called into question what it means to act as an international art institution when you cannot have physical exchange internationally. Additionally, the government lockdowns and working from home have intensified art institutions’ responsibility and role as caretaker to its staff, community and artists. For example, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow, where Beatrix advises on strategies and programmes, set up a programme to support local artists, as well as a canteen which provided food to its staff members, artists and people in need in Moscow. Philip added that the UCCA has strategically recentred it’s focus on the power of the artwork itself, as the art is still able to travel to the museum, even though the artists cannot. This fostered a more intentional way of working within the museum - to do less, with a bit more care and planning whilst the rhythm of “more, now, faster and bigger” in the art world has been suspended.
Beatrix Ruf speaking at the 2017 Verbier Art Summit.
Daniel Birnbaum discussing Acute Art's joint exhibition Mirage: Contemporary Art in Augmented Reality with the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing.
The pandemic has fast-forwarded the use of new digital mediums such as Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) showcasing their artistic, institutional and ecological potential.
The use of AR, VR and MR artworks drastically reduces the need for travel, thus providing a solution to what Daniel (partnering museum director of the 2018 Summit Art in the Digital Age) calls an ‘ecologically disastrous’ model of contemporary international art fairs and biennales. However, Daniel also reminds us that the digital sphere still isn’t completely ecologically harmless and that technologies such as VR are still rather difficult to distribute due to the need of headsets and heavy equipment. On a positive note, AR artworks have been extremely successful in terms of their reach and accessibility due to the widespread use of mobile phones. Daniel and Philip agreed that the new visual possibilities provided by these mediums have sparked further questions about how traditional institutional platforms and spaces may develop in response.
Olafur Eliasson, WUNDERKAMMER, 2020.
Daniel Birnbaum discussing the work of his studio Acute Art.
Although art institutions have developed a stronger emphasis on 'the local', the planetary experience and global meaning of the pandemic has highlighted that we can no longer act locally without thinking globally.
Daniel reflects on the current trend of buying more local artworks and how these new localisms could lead to a new insistence on grassroots initiatives regarding the environment. This could provide a more sustainable alternative to the ‘blockbuster exhibition model’ that has become dependent on mass tourism (and events). However, Daniel also believes that international discourse and conversations are important to avoid new nationalisms, echoing Beatrix’s statement that we have “to be local, but think about the planet”. Commenting on the diverse backgrounds of the Netherlands-based The Hartwig Art Production | Collection Fund curators, Beatrix adds that one of the big challenges of new localisms will be to not get the wrong idea about the ‘local’, as the local is quite often very international already: the pandemic has made it clear that we are all connected.
The Hartwig Art Production | Collection Fund aims to help artists realise ambitious productions that will be donated to the Dutch national art collection. To learn more about the Fund click here.
To learn more about Daniel and Philip’s collaboration for the Mirage: Contemporary Art in Augmented Reality exhibition (28 November 2020 – 10 February 2021) click here.
The UCCA Center for Contemporary Art's UCCA Lab in Beijing will stage the world's first NFT art exhibition entitled "Virtual Niche—Have you ever seen memes in the mirror?” from 26 March – 4 April 2021. NFT's (non-fungible tokens) are unique digital assets made with blockchain technology, that allow one person to own a digital artwork. By showcasing the works of more than 60 artists, the exhibition aims to connect the institutional art world with the crypto community. Click here to read more.
Unreal City (8 December 2020 – 5 January 2021) London’s biggest AR exhibition produced by Acute Art and Dazed Media, was eventually made available to the public from the safety of their homes in response to the new lockdown measures in London. The Unreal City at Home exhibition featured works by KAWS, Nina Chanel Abney, Olafur Eliasson and Cao Fei. To view their AR artworks download the Acute Art app here.