Founded four years ago by Greek-Italian artist Angelo Plessas, The Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sisterhood is an object of social innovation, network hyperactivity, and acephalous communication. It’s a project that seems like the format for a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total artwork, in the age of techno-relational capitalism: a retreat for artists, writers, architects, curators, gathered in isolation to experiment with practices of extra-urban networked/un-networked forms of life-work. The first of the nomadic getaways was held on the Greek island of Anafi in 2012; the second in the surrealist park of Las Pozas in the jungle of Xilitla, Mexico the following year; and the third on the shores of the Dead Sea in Palestine (reported on here) in 2014. This year around fifteen participants gathered during the summer days of July 6 to 15, at the Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo, a proper medieval castle, with castellations, frescoes, and ancient armours.
Life in the castle is divided along micro-happenings, solitary work, and intensive sessions of collective browsing, when everyone was sitting around a table glued on their laptops, iPhones and iPads. A visit by Gianni Pettena, a historical exponent of the Radical Architecture movement, is one of the highlights, together with a dinner prepared by Ylva Ogland. It consists of black and white food, a chromatic opposition that appears often in her work, followed by a ritual administering of homemade vodka distilled with crushed rubies and stones from the Parthenon along with a sprinkle of breastmilk. At the same time, #ETINTERBRO is being represented by Plessas in Athens by what he describes as a “promotional stand”; an immersive installation at the Museum of Cycladic Art, which was awarded the 2015 Deste Prize on September 7 (You can read the #ETINTERBRO catalogue text here). However, the news coming from Athens is that of the post-referendum Greek political quandary. Between conversation about the crisis as the Greek government is capitulating to the requests of international creditors, a collective quantum meditation is lead by artist Sophie Jung. There is a chance for a walk in the forest, where each participant decides to produce a spontaneous and ephemeral work. Events taking place in the castle are articulated on dual the representation of time, both online and off, as participants rush to upload their best pictures and videos to the internet. It feels like everything around us is being remediated in the form of a sort of live online happening, merging the #ETINTERBRO hashtag with private memory. Then there are the countless conversations: about art, work, life, which will remain unreported.
On the one hand The Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sisterhood is a fluid situation-generator, a conversational machine, and an escapist context-shifting invention: “For me this is the Brotherhood“, says Plessas, “it’s about finding ways to experience your feelings and your limits in another situation”. On the other, it’s a comment on one of the most traumatic transformations in the production and consumption of culture. Abandoning the traditional function of the artist as a content provider, Plessas takes is upon himself to explore the function of social media in contemporary culture: that of context provider. Because with #ETINTERBRO, Plessas makes his job as artist to create a situation for the participants to explore different ways of communicating, for creative gestures to be exchanged. The result is a synthesis between the visions glued together in those Superstudio‘s collages where people lived in harmony with natural landscapes crossed by network reticulations and Facebook’s constant swarming of producer-consumers. Removed from an urban setting and immersed in a suggestive location, the Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sisterhood feels like Pettena’s Radical Architecture is happening all over again and it is real: people inhabit landscapes of communication grids and the internet fulfils a liberating function. **
Event and installation photos, top right.