Leaves are falling, meaning Autumn is in full swing lads. Unfortunately, so is lockdown, the ultimate vibe kill. Lost your social life and the ability to feel joy? Don’t worry! You may have just forgotten that museums, galleries and artists are evolving beyond physical spaces to engage with arts and culture since this is the new normal. A virtual exhibit could save your day.
With the arts in disarray and Fatima being told to retrain in cyber, now more than ever is the time to support the creative industry as it adapts. Especially when art is the one thing that gives us the space to process the world.
From paintings to photography, these events offer some much-needed escapism from, well, your own house. With that in mind, we’ve narrowed down a list of the best virtual exhibitions you can attend across the UK and beyond.
Eye to I: Self-Portraits
At the start of the pandemic, The Smithsonian honed in on some selected works to give the public a deeper insight into the pieces without having to attend the museum. Now the institution has unveiled sixty artworks that explore how American artists have chosen to portray themselves since the beginning of the last century. With everything going on in America, maybe it’s time to rethink selfhood, identity and agency. Works include Untitled, from the series When I am Not Here, Estoy alla (1996) by Cuban-born artist Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons. Watch below.
Boca Raton Museum of Art organised by Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
In the 1990s, armed conflict and the exploitation of natural resources in the rainforest displaced Colombian artist Abel Rodríguez and his family from his native land. To preserve his memory of his region, he has been creating detailed vivid paintings and drawings in Chinese ink that depict the ecosystem of the rainforest in the Nonuya region. Impressively, despite being drawn from memory, his portraits are invaluable to botanists making his luscious rainforest depictions highly valued and gaining him international recognition.
Rachel Portesi: Hair Portraits
Since the dawn of man, hair has held cultural, racial and symbolic meaning. Artist Rachel Portesi has worked with models to create intricate hairstyles which she documents using an early photographic method known as tintype. This exhibition is currently on display at Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Vermont. However, it is also being made available online due to Coronavirus, meaning it can be seen while you’re in your pyjamas eating lunch straight out of the pot you cooked it in.
COARSE: The Edges of Black Ingenuity
Another exhibition that explores the politics surrounding hair – this time looking at Blackness through the lens of afro hair by renowned hairstylist Jawara, who has styled some the most influential women in entertainment and arts. The show features images by a range of popular photographers including Ijewere, Tyler Mitchell, Kyle Weeks and unpublished pictures by Oliver Hadlee Pearch.
London: Hackney in the 1980s: Photographs from the Tape/Slide project
Three years ago, while sifting through paperwork and memorabilia, staff at Rio Cinema found a collection of photographs of Hackney throughout the 1980s. Photographs are currently being exhibited at Hackney Museum, but while that’s not open, you can find some of these photographs on Instagram and as a book. Fun fact: I met the person who found all the photographs the launch of the co-author of this book, Tamara Stoll’s, previous book just off Ridley road market. They told me that since they’ve shared them, locals have stumbled across old pictures of family members and friends. How heartwarming.
As part of Black History Month (though available throughout November), Ogilvy Roots and Mediacom roots, two Diversity and Inclusion networks within the WPP Group, launched their first virtual exhibition. The show is designed to give contemporary artists exposure within the art world, and the mediums displayed range from photography to illustration, to animation and fine art. Artists include award-winning graphic designer Kingsley Nebechi who created the #Merky logo for Stormzy’s campaigns, cover art and clothing.
From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta
Photographer Sunil Gupta explores gay Indian life, from cruising on street corners to Aids activism. Gupta’s work has played an important role in raising awareness around the political realities concerning the fight for international gay rights – and this retrospective moves through his career from participating in New York’s active Gay Liberation Movement in the 1970s to his recent campaign for gay liberation in India. While the exhibition isn’t yet available virtually, an extensive video where the artist discusses the work in the show is available online, and previews can be seen on Sunil’s website.
London Photographer’s Gallery