If you invite an „internet“ artist to contribute to an exhibition, can you pay them in „likes“? When Bourdieu came up with his famous theory of Cultural Capital, was he just referring to how many followers he had on Instagram? Do people prefer to be told what to like? Is an endlessly scrolling interface like a painting of an infinite supper?
On October 27, 2016 the EIGEN + ART Lab in Berlin Mitte opens the show „Free WiFi/Gratis WLAN“, conceived and assembled by Berlin-based artist and reluctant engineer Brendan Howell. The gallery space has been converted to resemble a typical cafe space (with the expected free WiFi) for this exhibition of internet-based works. Participants include Renee Carmichael, Kathrin Günter, Katya Isaeva, Silvio Lorusso, Johannes P. Osterhoff, Antonio Roberts, TeYosh and the Scandinavian Institute of Computational Vandalism. All of the artists are skeptical about the conventional sale of their works but maybe they could accept compensation as a particular number of likes, links, views, follows, eyeballs or clicks on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other social networks.
While we don’t actually have satisfying answers to most of the above questions, if you want to see the show, you will need to come down to the EIGEN + ART Lab with your laptop, tablet or smart-phone. You will certainly be confronted with a few contemporary riddles but you also might start to perceive parts of your everyday network-mediated life differently. And despite the post-utopian gloom of today’s internet culture, there are a few artists who still seem to be having fun. There will also be coffee and free (geographically limited) WiFi until the show’s end on December 17.
Text by Brendan Howell
Participants: Renee Carmichael, Kathrin Günter, Katya Isaeva, Silvio Lorusso, Johannes P. Osterhoff, Antonio Roberts, TeYosh and the Scandinavian Institute of Computational Vandalism