Forget the guest list, are you on curator Ada Wright Potter's mailing list?
The ability to display artworks and have art exhibitions online has helped democratize and expand the experience of art tremendously in the past decade, but artist and curator Ada Wright Potter has pushed the digital viewing of art toward a different and undoubtedly more unique direction in her latest project, SCREEN_.
SCREEN_ is “an email-based project art space.” Although the project has an official website akin to other popular digital art spaces, its primary exhibition space is a monthly email ‘solo show’ of an artist, sent to those on the mailing list through MailChimp. SCREEN_ has only had two shows thus far, the first by Jeffrey Scudder and the second by Dina Kelberman but Potter has upcoming exhibitions set up until the end of July.
Beyond the democratizing effect and low overhead of an email exhibition in comparison to a white cube show, the email format causes other ruptures within the tradition of art viewing. For example, email adds an element of permanence, but also elusiveness, to which Wright responds, “Yes, the email will always be there for you to return to, but unlike mail art it probably won’t become a precious, fetishistic object. I kind of like the idea of some of the emails going unread or being buried in spam folders. Obviously I want an engaged audience, but I also think the unseen email is an interesting space for art to exist in."
After a show has been conducted via email, it is effectively concluded and can no longer be viewed in that particular context again. It is one of the few elements of SCREEN_ that are reminiscent of a traditional gallery show. Like any reputable gallery, the project has an online archive of its shows available for post-show viewing, although this recontextualization alters the experience of viewing art yet again.
The collective and public nature of viewing art in galleries or museums is also distorted in SCREEN_. “One of the cool things about email as a format is that we open our emails alone. Even on a crowded street, an individual is, in a sense, by themselves when they engage with the contents of an email,” Wright explains. “It's a sort of a digital one-on-one. Our inboxes are private and personal spaces that we each organize differently.”