We’ve all seen self-deprecating tweets about daily quarantine schedules by now. Time has had a strange sense of warping these past two weeks, and what a length of time two weeks can feel like. As the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated, causing lockdowns and self-isolation globally, people are caught between a slower introspective pace and managing the desire to keep active. What might have been hasty DMs between friends a couple weeks ago now play out through long WhatsApp video calls. For unfortunate lack of a better word, virality has a bigger presence than ever—from memes helping lighten the mood to mass coordinated applause from balconies in support of frontline healthcare workers. Meanwhile, the arts and music scenes are staring down isolation in industries that rely heavily on communion and physical togetherness. In this readjusted daily life, online platforms have unsurprisingly taken a central position in how we adapt to a new social reality in quarantine.
With video chat get-togethers and the surging popularity of remote conferencing service Zoom, the characteristics of parties and exhibitions are adapting to streamed and digitally-mediated formats. Paywalls are dropping or lowering to meet the fresh need for news, and arts organisations are shifting in their roles from curating physical spaces to becoming interlocutors between their staff and the troves of free content available online.
Today we feature some of our picks from the initiatives providing programming for our community to stay safe at home streaming.
Geneva-based project space Cherish is run by artists Mohamed Almusibli, James Bantone, Thomas Liu Le Lann and Ser Serpas from their home, hosting shows that give a platform for work “that has been tokenized and is accustomed to functioning as an afterthought of institutional structures in Switzerland and abroad.” For a period of four weeks, Cherish is taking to social media with a daily screening programme of video works titled Cherish TV. Each piece is broadcast on IGTV via Cherish’s Instagram account for a 24 hour period, with a weekly schedule announced each Thursday, and a programme featuring works by the likes of Hannah Black, Özgür Kar, Precious Okoyomon, Shanzai Biennial, Claire van Lubeek and more.
Club Q has built an overnight community among those pining for the euphoria of queer club spaces from isolation. The initiative hosts regular parties on Zoom filled with smiling listeners tuned in from bedrooms and living room dance floors populated by two or three flatmates. In its short time online Club Q has featured DJ sets from Casey MQ, Martyn Bootyspoon, Oklou and Saradibiza among others. Rather than the anonymous stay-at-home gaze one might have from a Boiler Room-style stream, Zoom’s multi-tiled video chat format means an inclusive viewing experience for everyone who’s tuned-in, creating expressive participation from listeners and an excuse to dress up without leaving the house.
As physical spaces with diverse programmes shut down, the staff of these organisations take to other means to curate, with London’s ICA being one such organisation providing a daily digest of selections via email from their curatorial staff. Selections so far on ICA Daily have been as wide ranging as a free online horror novel from queer New Narrative writer Dennis Cooper, to a selection of short film commissions by Rebecca Salvadori which as one ICA curator Sara Sassanelli notes, “in the current absence of raves, portray the unique forms of intimacy found in club culture.”
Silicon Valet’s Well Now WTF? group exhibition
In their upcoming show Well Now WTF? online exhibition space Silicon Valet has responded to the needs of artists during lockdown not just to show work but also to bond through the gatherings, discussions and social scenes that exhibition programmes usually encourage. With an opening hosted on Twitch this April 4, 8pm-10pm EST, the project curated by Faith Holland, Lorna Mills and Wade Wallerstein will also hold online events during the exhibition period. Well Now WTF? will be accessible for free or by a suggested donation for exhibitors, and features the work of over 60 artists including Carlos Sáez, Eva Papamargariti, Pastiche Lumumba, Olia Svetlanova, Petra Cortright, Rafia Santana and Theo Triantafyllidis to name just a few.
Amanda Wilkinson Gallery’s online video programme
London gallery Amanda Wilkinson has announced a programme in sequel to the Video Project Space curated by the gallerist in East London back in 2001 to 2002, this time moving the project online. Video Project, Part II: Images Disturbed by an Intense Parasite, takes its title from a 1970 piece by experimental filmmaker Paolo Gioli which features in the programme. Alongside past films by significant figures such as Derek Jarman and Joan Jonas, the programme features recent work by contemporary practitioners Jenkin Van Zyl, Richard Porter, Dorota Gawęda and Eglė Kulbokaitė. Weeklong screenings are available via a Vimeo account with access provided through Amanda Wilkinson’s mailing list.
S/ash art collective’s ‘Body Building Exercise’ video
Featured earlier this week on AQNB, the S/ash art collective co-founded by Maggie Menghan Chen and a1jewel has produced an indoor workout video as a pragmatic response to the lockdown. With pop choreography-inspired movements, glossy outfits and a hi-sheen soundtrack from Shanghai-based PC Music affiliate felicita, the video provides an energetic antidote to the feeling of confinement that comes with the quarantine. As Chen herself comments, “The video is actually more spirit-building rather than body-building.”**