There is so much uncertainty right now about everything, what happens with art seems like the least of our worries. Yet art is one of the touchstones of our humanity. I have seen a meme that asks how you are enjoying movies, music, games, online performances, during social distancing. The punchline is something to the effect of “thank an artist”.
So right now, what we are seeing are all forms of digital art. There are museums and galleries that offer images and virtual tours online. But how are the artists and makers coping? Farago suggests that, as a response to social isolation, it will be less likely that artists will quietly seclude themselves in their studios and paint, as it will be for new art to be popping up all over social media. “For most artists, for most citizens, the experience of social distancing has not been peace and quiet, but perpetual bombardment with news and images on a smartphone screen.” Farago goes on to discuss Instagram as a venue, writing “Maybe it’s time to ask whether this social platform can be not just a promotional tool for art, but a medium in its own right.” Artists are using their cell phones, humor, and creativity to comment on the pandemic and social distancing. Farago discusses how, in recent years, world travel has become something of a trend in the contemporary art world, almost upending the notion of an artist working alone in a place-based studio, and how digital media has accelerated this trend. His conclusion is that perhaps artists will find new ways of addressing global issues without contributing to climate crisis through plane travel. The pandemic and social isolation will no doubt lead to the creation of new ways to connect, new ways to get work out there into the world. Perhaps the days of large collections in museums, or blockbuster art exhibitions, or bazillion dollar art auctions will diminish. There are so many unknowns, and so many possibilities.
Farago, J. The Merry-Go-Round Stopped. What Sort of Art Will Emerge? New York Times,
25 March 2020
Pierson, D. The coronavirus is inspiring memes, parodies and art in Asia as a way to cope, Los Angeles Times, 6 March 2020