From our Winter 2020 Preview section, which features conversations with artists and curators on upcoming projects.
MICHAEL CONNOR: When we decided to do a gallery show to conclude Net Art Anthology, we didn’t want to undertake a comprehensive gallery version of the project—partly because it had been designed more as a web-based exhibition, and the works we chose were intended to kind of tell a story through their aggregation over time on the web. We instead picked up key questions and themes that emerge when trying to think historically about Net art, which developed in contexts that are no longer accessible to us—even with very recent work. Net art as a whole has a really particular relationship with materiality and time, in the sense that everything that happens in a computer, as my colleague Dragan Espenschied says, is a performance. It’s also so unique as a field in that the critical discourse and the language around the work was developed by the artists themselves, through mailing lists and social media. If there has traditionally been a gap between the artwork and its historical/critical reception, online communities have closed it, and the artists became their own critics and historians. In our exhibition, we address the performative and context-dependent aspects of Net art by reperforming or recirculating particular works, putting them into motion as a part of an archival repertoire. And we explore ways of marking loss and absence. —As told to Tess Edmonson