The Great Conspiracy
16 Dec 2020 6:00 pm - 28 Feb 2021 8:00 pm|
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In response to the difficulties faced by the visual arts in relation to the Covid-19 crisis, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) presents, on 16 December 2020, the exhibition The Great Conspiracy. The project is coordinated by Spain’s Royal Academy in Rome and materialises as a space of experimentation for online artistic practices.
The Great Conspiracy is a virtual exhibition that brings together works made specifically for the virtual medium by artists Agnès Pe, Clara Montoya, Francesc Ruiz, Marc Vives and Paco Chanivet. These new creations arise from an invitation from the show’s curators, Manuela Pedrón Nicolau and Jaime González Cela, to reflect on the conditions of online contact and current forms of knowledge, with express consideration of telecommunications logics. The five works presented here have been created in 2020 to be contemplated on digital devices, from anywhere with an internet connection, and, from divergent standpoints and strategies, the exhibition enables the Net’s hidden mechanisms to be viewed and experimented with, mechanisms which, in their saturation and dematerialisation, are invisible to our eye. The project is part of the Ventana (Window) Programme of digital content propelled by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID).
The Great Conspiracy is an initiative from Spain’s Royal Academy in Rome, an institution which, as a centre of cultural production and innovation, has been supporting artists and researchers from Spain, Latin America and Europe for over 147 years. The project is an amalgamation of different Cultural Offices and Cultural Centres from Spanish Embassies in five countries, creating a network of collaborations that flow beyond virtual space.
The ensemble of pieces that have come into being from this challenge intervenes in virtual dynamics, lending weight to their possibilities and granting visibility to their communication mechanisms. A series of artistic proposals which, as a tool, narrative experience, archaeological instrument or mail experiment, set forth short circuits, distortions and homages through which to think about the uses and poetics of these technologies. Clara Montoya approaches methods of digital cartography to consider how distant places are accessed through images; Agnès Pe underscores the role of advertising in the history of the World Wide Web, overhauling one of the landmarks of internet commodification; Marc Vives remixes sound archives that circulate on the Net as an antidote to visual overload; Paco Chanivet sets out leaps between the virtual and the physical via narrative resources of science fiction, suggestion and hyperstition; and Francesc Ruiz designs a series of materials and actions to short-circuit national mail system logistics.
The exhibition title plays with internet communication’s most common forms of enticement, from clickbait to junk mail subjects and spam. With this pull, The Great Conspiracy opens the possibility of experimenting with distanced artworks, presenting a series of works using the logics of internet communication and other distribution possibilities, but without occupying a conventional exhibition structure, a museum, a gallery or any other four-walled art centre with gallery security staff and solemnity. Inside the website, which serves as an exhibition space, the show unfolds in a journey of numerous possibilities, enabling visitors to navigate and browse the different pieces and content.
A parallel programme of encounters with the artists
The project’s virtual dimension is accompanied by a programme of online encounters, stretching from its unveiling to February 2021. The programme serves as a counterpoint and places the project in a network of spaces and forums of discussion traced by Spanish Embassies in different countries via participating Cultural Centres and Cultural Offices. Moreover, the virtuality of the show enables an international framework to be put in place, while its physical dimension has sufficient scope to be articulated with the local culture sector and, therefore, to promote Spain’s artistic practices overseas.
Consequently, each Spanish Cultural Office in Brussels, Lisbon, London and Washington, as well as Spain’s Cultural Centre in Montevideo, will host talks and lectures by one of the artists participating in the project, thereby conversing with resident artists in these cities.
A virtual support created expressly for the exhibition
This virtual space, designed by HYPER STUDIO, does not respond to commonplace structures and codes in commercial websites, nor does it replicate the conditions of a physical exhibition space. Rather, it is a shifting space that varies from visit to visit, depending on the time and place from which it is accessed, and is structured around related positions centred on the network of cities that sculpt the project. These and other mechanisms mean that the exhibition place displays how our internet actions leave a data trace — the content unfurls through different layers of reading, encouraging active browsing, a fresh experience through the screen. Resources specific to the medium, such as “Easter eggs” — holding hidden messages — will also enable visitors to unpack the nuts and bolts of this project.
The Great Conspiracy is an initiative that takes place inside the framework of AECID’s Ventana (Window) Programme, “A window into Spanish Culture”, and seeks to continue propelling, despite the difficulties brought about by the current health emergency, the internationalisation of male and female artists, creators and Spain’s cultural industries, thereby fostering artistic collaboration and networks, primarily through digital mediums.