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Meet The Artist Who Launched The First Kickstarter-Powered Art Exhibition

Using the crowd-funding platform as a medium, Krystal South created a one-of-a-kind exhibition format.

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Exhibition Kickstarter does Kickstarter a little differently. Portland-based artist and writer Krystal South's new project transforms the popular crowd-funding platform into an exhibition space. Featuring limited edition artworks from the likes of Ryder RippsKim AsendorfLaTurbo Avedon, and Krist Wood, South's project sets out to create a new kind of peer-to-peer art market. 

Says South, "I want more than anything for artists to be able to support themselves with their work, and for interesting ideas to find the widest possible audience." Artists will take 75% of the revenue, and the remaining 25% will be divided between Kickstarter's fees and the physical costs of putting on the exhibition. From Asendorf's Bieber Room Flag to Krist Wood's Arc's Box music box, the objects, artifacts, or "readymade 2.0's" in the show bear their artists' respective aesthetic signatures. Many of the pieces are creatively customizable, meaning that two buyers of the same artist will receive different artworks. Marcel Duchamp would be jealous. 

Come October 11th, Ditch Projects, a gallery in Springfield, Oregon, will also host a physical exhibition to finalize the project. The show will be comprised of video interviews by the artists, an essay on the creative process by South, and a copy of each proposed object. 

Already halfway through the campaign, Krystal South spoke to The Creators Project about the ideas behind and evolution of the Exhibition Kickstarter project:

LaTurbo Avedon, URL Letterman Jacket, 2014. 24 oz wool and embroidery, edition of 10.

The Creators Project: First, which artwork is your favorite, and why?

Krystal South: I’m pretty upset because I want to buy one of everything, but Kickstarter doesn’t allow me to contribute to my own campaign. That’s what I get for working the edge of the system. I’m going to recruit a proxy to buy what I can afford on my behalf, and a few of the artists have given me their work. Also, my mom bought me Bea Fremderman’s Worry Less pillowcases for Christmas. All of the artists surprised and delighted me with the works that they produced, things that have a strong, interesting relationship to their overall oeuvre.

Jeremy Bailey, Famous New Media Artist's Hand, 2014. 3D Print, edition of 10.

What made you choose Kickstarter as a crowd-funding platform?

I’ve been fascinated by Kickstarter since it was pretty limited to tech products. After working in the tech industry for a few years, I found myself wanting to see people push the whole system further. It’s been incredibly successful for artists since they opened it up further, and I have really strong hopes for crowdfunding – on or off of Kickstarter – will have a serious impact on how the economy works, especially for creative endeavors. 

Mo Marie, Fount Pillow, 2014. 13" x 21” Polyester Lumbar Pillow, edition of 10.

I’ve received a great response from Kickstarter staff members that I’ve spoken with, and they have been really supportive of the project. They’ve established themselves as the name in crowd-funding, and appear to have perfected the psychological and visual design systems that motivate contributions and social dispersion. Plus, I had never done a Kickstarter campaign and I really wanted to try it out. I now know it’s as addicting for creators as it is donors.

Krist Wood, Arc's Box (prelude iii, green), 2014. Stained, arched wooden box with ivory suede interior and custom light-sensitive electronic sound module, edition of 10.

Can you tell us more about the origins and ultimate goals of this project? How did you choose the artists, and what were your selection criteria?

I was really excited to be asked to do a show at Ditch Projects, a space started in Springfield, Oregon by University of Oregon Arts faculty. I’ve known these artists and the space for a few years, and they show really great work. As an independent, artists-run collective, they have never sold work from the shows directly. The timeline for the project was pretty short, and I have a full time job, so I had to find a way to make something that could be produced virtually but exist physically. Not having any budget to produce some of the ideas I had in development, I decided to focus on Kickstarter as a subject matter, and then ended up here after lots of conversations about the idea with friends.

I wasn’t setting out to make any kind of curatorial statement about this project, it is more of a series of questions. I think it’s been overwhelmingly successful, but it has opened up even more questions for me about other variables that could be added or removed to the system, or other platforms. I hope other people will experiment with something like this. I was thinking of Rafael Rosendaal’s Bring Your Own Beamer exhibition idea, and how it took on a life of it’s own. Systems or frameworks like this are interesting to me both in and outside of the art world.

Ryder Ripps, Realtime Readymades, 2014. Conceptual Ebay purchase, edition on 10.

I did a project a few years ago where I emailed all of the online artists I was interested in, and asked them to be a part of a one night exhibition that also existed virtually—amazingly most of them agreed to be a part of it, and I had a really great time working with them on the project. It’s sort of this accidental curation by just wanting to work with all of these interesting artists I follow on the internet, and I did that again here. It’s so cool to work with artists virtually, and some of them I have never met IRL! I don’t call it curation, but see it as more of a system-creating and then production role, but when I install the show next week I think that other part of my brain will take over. I’ll be writing a catalog essay about my results from this little experiment, that I will send to all of the project backers. 

I don’t know when this project will really ‘end.’ The Kickstarter campaign will end during the opening of the physical exhibition on October 11th. Then I will know if I am able to sell the works that are in Ditch Projects, some of them are already sold out. But after that, there’s still sending out the artworks to buyers, and the life of those works in their homes. I really hope that people will share photos of the artwork once they receive it!

Zachary Davis, Angel Hair, 2014. Pigment-impregnated gypsum, edition of 10.

How did the campaign evolve, and do you think it will reach its goal?

I didn’t expect it to be funded so quickly! And I am excited to see that each artist has sold one of their works. Obviously I want everyone to produce and sell their full editions. Something that I didn’t expect was that people would make donations without requesting a reward. The same 75% of this money will be distributed across all of the artists after it’s over. It’s so exciting to see strangers contributing to the campaign, and I am really hoping to get this project in front of a broad audience. I especially love hearing what people outside of the art world think of the idea and the work!

Anthony Antonellis, #Moneybrick Centurion Card, 2014. American Express Centurion USB Credit Card, edition of 10.

Can you tell us about the project's URL/IRL dichotomy? Why work with both Kickstarter and a physical space? 

I have always been really obsessed with the relationship and translation between virtual and physical artwork. One of the interesting things about working with customizable online objects is the part that renders or mockups play in the production process. Now, having received all of the objects themselves, it feels very satisfying to see it in an IRL form. I am interested in how these artworks function as representations during the campaign (the trust of the image by the buyer), and as artworks installed in the same space during the physical exhibition. The videos and other materials that have been created as part of the show (this included!) will also be in the space, which will serve as the aftermath of the virtual experience. 

I come from a background in painting and worked digitally and on the internet for years, then made sculptures and images trying to resolve that inner battle, and now I am doing whatever I want. It feels really good to go between virtual and real space seamlessly, it’s a pretty accurate parallel between my life and work.

Brad Adkins, DIPSY DOOTY, 2014. Nylon, Polypropylene. Edition of 10.

What do you think the physical exhibition adds to the online campaign?

I will share images of the physical exhibition with the virtual audience, and it will be the first time most of them see the artworks that they have purchased. There is this delayed satisfaction that happens with Kickstarter that I think is really interesting, where you pay for the thing and then some amount of time goes by before you get your ‘reward.’

Bea Fremderman, Worry Less, 2014. Two cotton pillowcases, edition of 10.

Do you see a sequel/follow-up to this project? Any future projects?

I really have enjoyed doing this Kickstarter, though I have realized it’s incredibly hard work and requires lots of attention which can be difficult when you have a day job. Luckily, the Kickstarter iPhone app is great so I can check on it obsessively all the time. 

I have been working on a bunch of poems about the NSA that I would like to come back to over the winter, and I have a potential show in Portland next year, but am looking forward to giving my awesome job at Oregon Story Board my undivided attention again when this is done. :)

Rick Silva, RENDERING, 2014. Custom 10" wall clock, edition of 10.

With 12 days to go, Krystal South's Exhibition Kickstarter has already doubled its $2,068 goal. Visit Krystal South's website to learn more about the artist and project. 

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