Virtual Residency Chronicles: Bailey Keogh
The beginning of March has marked the start of wendy.network’s first online residency. The virtual residency will culminate in the presentation of six creative projects, each different and exciting in their own way!
In this installment of the Virtual Residency Chronicles we take a moment to appreciate our six resident artists. We discuss their inspirations, their life, their practice and of course their project idea for the wendy.network residency.
Bailey Keogh is an American born artist based in Berlin. Her work underlines technology as a mode of conversation with historical narratives of art, society and politics, and investigates how those are translated in the contemporary landscape of digital technology.
Her project for the Virtual Residency challenges the institutionalized methods of artistic display. Bailey’s desire is to break away from the confines of the ‘white cube’ and to re-imagine surprising and unconventional spaces of exhibition by curating micro-exhibitions.
Your project for the wendy.network takes on the idea of the traditional white cube exhibition space. Why do think it’s important to break away from this type of artistic display and in which ways should we redefine creative display?
Presently it is out of necessity. As we all know, many exhibitions were canceled or altered to fit within corona restrictions. Subsequently, the ever present discourse of criticizing “the white cube” morphed into more of a utilitarian question: how can we still curate, exhibit and share in this time?
In your project proposal you mention different spaces that could be potentially used as valid exhibition spaces. Why should we reconsider ‘the inside of a microwave, [a] parking garage or [an] imagined online space [to] be better suited as an exhibition space’?
Maybe what I am searching for isn’t necessarily better. I am pretty candid about my distaste for the current online viewing rooms. Many attempts we have seen have been ‘corona time’ substitutes and have been clumsy at best. Mainly because they have been substitutes. So it is my hope to create something from the limitations instead of compromising.
Unconventional exhibitions are nothing new, it’s been a trend since the 1970s. It was really exciting for me during this time to see so many exhibitions move into forests or inside parking garages. For instance, the students at a Weissensee, a Berlin arts university, held their end of the year exhibition in a public basketball court. Maybe I lived in Seattle for too long but I can’t help but be inspired by a strong DIY spirit.
You have also done some work in the digital art/ crypto art world. Do you find it is a difficult space to navigate?
In terms of crypto art the concepts came a bit naturally. Back in 2017, I was doing marketing for a lot of sleazy ICOs (initial coin offering). It was my frustration from the get rich quick, greedy vibes that led me to create work that explored crypto for anti capitalistic objectives. In terms of making art and digital art around crypto and blockchain it is a little strange because, let’s face it, blockchain at the end of the day is nothing more than a standardized ledger system. But it is the potential in which people can use it or build on it that I find interesting. So I guess in a way the technology is more simple and the complex part is the humans.
How do you define crypto art and do you think that as a relatively new mode of artistic production there is still space for improvement? If not, where do you see crypto-art in the future?
In my mind “crypto art” right now is two things.
A lot of digital artists are starting to do NFTs which is a very viable means of selling digital works. I have heard of major galleries selling editions of video works on CDs or USBs. For a lot of mid range artists the ability to sell editions or having the trust of the viable use and sale of editions outside of this system seems like a nightmare. If you are unfamiliar with NFT I would suggest the recent memes from the Jerry Gogosian (@jerrygogosian) instagram account.
But to elaborate, there is huge room for improvement. One important fact to note is that buying art in the digital space can be great because it is not as ecologically corrosive as the painting that requires plastics for packaging and the inherent oil expenditures of shipping. There are however the consequences of generating the cryptocurrency to buy the work. We can’t ignore it. I do think seeing the pictures of big ass crypto mining facilities in some ice covered region generating crazy amounts of electricity is not what buying and selling NFTs creates. Right now, there is a lot of trendiness and sensationalization of what is happening.
The second could be art that in some way uses functions of crypto or blockchain in the work. That could be including blockchain, mining, smart contracts etc into a piece. My work exists in the second option. Right now, I am currently working on a piece that explores our relationship with trust through smart contracts.
As for the future, I think the NFT thing is here to stay. There needed to be some standard for digital artists selling their work and if this becomes an industry agreed upon solution. As for art involving crypto, I don’t think it will ever be a medium like painting. But for me it involves a lot of my interests and I think as long as I keep thinking about it I will probably keep crypto art.
Your art is in its majority digital or online so has your creative practise changed at all because of the global pandemic?
I did move even more inside a computer. Currently I’m teaching myself Cinema 4D. Although painting is still very much a part of practice. My brain is always divided in 5 different spaces at once. I think I am always doing 100 things poorly. Right now in lockdown 1000. Painting, digital art, djing, making music, and who knows what else.
You have also mentioned that you believe that the ways in which we exhibit art will change forever after the pandemic. In which ways do you think that will be?
Change often happens because it has to happen, but in this case maybe it’s also my personal wish. The art world runs in a way that involves a high number of unnecessary energy expenditures. I note the irony as a crypto artist critiquing energy expenditures, but at this point, the environmental impact from the art world is presently speaking much higher. Namely, the shipping, the packaging, the flying of people.
When thinking about digital art in particular it feels even more so unnecessary. Just in the way that NFTs have recently given some sort of new validity to the sales of digital art, we should find different ways of viewing that do not involve such extreme energy expenditures.
Hopefully the viewing of works can be seen as valid through our computer screens or other screens. As a painter I cannot say ever that seeing a piece in person is replaceable, however for digital works I think we can expand the possibilities.
Of course, when the covid restrictions are lifted I do believe the art world will probably return to some level of business as usual. The postponed fairs will be rescheduled and a lot of people will return to the normal that they have so dearly missed.
But I hope in this time we can add validity to some more eco friendly options. And not to sound too threatening or too doomy… I really hope it doesn’t take the actual climate apocalypse for some of these norms to change.
Your project is heavily collaborative, while the wendy.network residency is also formed as a 6 artist collaboration. How do you hope to interact with the other 5 artists involved in the wendy.network residency?
I hope to, of course, include them in my proposed exhibition. 😛
Interaction with artists outside my typical channels of communication is always great fun. Right now, we are located in different countries, different preferred mediums, different time zones, so the conversations can lead to different moods and directions.
What attracts you to relational art?
Throughout my practice I am keenly interested in the human component. I consider myself some sort of tech artist. But really at the foundation it is relational: how humans relate to one another through technology, how technology mirrors our relationships and how technology facilitates them.
What drew you to working with the wendy.network?
It was Michael Mastrototaro actually, the creator of wendy.network. I met him back in 2019 for a worklab put on by an organization called Mur.at to discuss blockchain and crypto from the perspective of artists, curators, philosophers and organizers. During the worklab Mastro was there to present KONJUNGATE and I was there as a crypto artist. Long story short, his approach to art both inspired me and made me giggle more than I had in a long time.
Do you have any expectations from the residency?
As in any sort of collaborative setting, I think, meeting other artists and people drawn to facilitating art is always a special little bond – if I am not being too sentimental. I think within the arts we all begin to speak in this language of references. Dropping names of other artists and works in conversations that one another should check out, listening to ideas, figuring out what the hell we are actually talking about when explaining to others. For me, community and communication is such a vital part of the process. Presently, I am feeling happy I get to form this virtual connection in a time of IRL uncertainty.
For more details about Bailey’s work, the virtual residency, our guest faculty and the other five artists in residence, stay tuned on the wendy.network!