Running around your studio while video-chatting on your phone can make for a queasy experience. But sitting in one spot and talking at your laptop screen can also feel too static, and a little boring. So why not combine both methods?
Many video-chat apps allow you to join the same room multiple times, which means you can log in simultaneously on your MacBook and your iPhone.
Use your laptop for casual conversation about ideas, and then pick up your phone to get up close and personal with artworks in the studio, zooming in on specific details. But don’t “show off art while using your front-facing camera,” cautioned artist
. “Change to the back camera. This way, you don’t have to guess which part of the work the viewer is looking at.”
If you’re feeling ambitious, why not go for an even more elaborate setup to create a true multimedia experience? Tyler Woolcott is the founder of the new online platform StudioVisit
, which organizes and presents virtual group studio visits with well-known artists. When StudioVisit set up a virtual visit with
, Woolcott said the British artist “used multiple screens, including one to broadcast his cartoon avatar, another to showcase his work, and another of himself, live.”
Dream big, since art world VIPs may be more accessible at the moment
You might not be able to snag a virtual studio visit with Klaus Biesenbach—who has quickly become enamored of the format, sharing recordings of his visits on YouTube
—but now might be the time to reach out to curators and critics who previously seemed out of reach.
“The best thing is the accessibility of the virtual format,” said
, a young artist whose work was included in an exhibition that went on view at Half Gallery
during New York’s lockdown. “Although I do much prefer in-person studio visits, it’s only possible when people are in town, and [when you can] coordinate schedules. With Zoom visits, people are more open to do them casually, since they can be done in the comfort of their own homes.”
The Italian artist Nadia Antonello, one half of the duo
, has been using the past few weeks to cast a wide net. “We contacted a large number of curators and museum and festival directors,” she explained, which resulted in responses from around the world, including France, the United Arab Emirates, CanadaMontreal, California, and South Africa.
Antonello surmised that COVID-19 has meant art world professionals “had more time to respond, to observe our portfolio with care.”
For big-time curators, 2020 is shaping up to be the year when jet-setting from one swanky international biennial to the next is replaced by hopping on another Zoom call with an intriguing artist you’ve never met in person before.
Lean in to the liberating potentials of digital space
The art world has long been concentrated in various so-called “power centers”—cities like New York, London, Berlin, and Los Angeles. That often gives an unfair advantage to artists who have the financial means to live (and rent a studio) in such expensive locales. It’s very easy for an assistant curator from the Whitney Museum
to hop on the subway to Bushwick, Brooklyn—and a lot harder for them to take a day trip down to Raleigh, North Carolina, for a quick studio visit.
Woolcott, the founder of StudioVisit, underscored how virtual visits are flattening geographic differences. “It makes studios accessible from anywhere in the world,” he said. The artists he launched StudioVisit with are a far-flung bunch, working everywhere from Argentina (Ad Minoliti) to Algeria (Lydia Ourahmane).
“This form of engaging with culture is going to become more normal, and this situation has proved that we can succeed in creating new sustainable models within the art world,” Woolcott said. “While there are assorted pros and cons, of course, it opens up new doors and possibilities for artists.”
Will the virtual studio visit thrive even after it’s safe to hang out in person again? If so, that’s great news for young artists living in places that so often are ignored.
“Quarantine has most likely opened up a bit more curiosity from collectors, dealers, and galleries who are interested in finding artists outside of New York,” said Dominic Chambers, who is based in New Haven, Connecticut, and will show his work this September at Anna Zorina Gallery
in Manhattan. “Now that it’s become commonplace for studio visits to take place via Zoom or FaceTime, it’ll surely draw attention to artists who otherwise may have been overlooked.”