Artists Are Creating Brand New Work for a Biennial in a Very Exotic, Very Secret Location: the Dark Web

You'll need a special browser to visit the exhibition.

Vladan Joler, New Extractivism (2020).
Vladan Joler, New Extractivism (2020).

New artworks by six contemporary artists and collectives, including David Horvitz, Joshua Citarella, and Clusterduck, are going onto the dark web next month as part of “Time Out of Joint,” a new exhibition curated by New York-based artistic partners Eva and Franco Mattes.

The show, which is an early part of the Yerevan Biennial that’s set to take place in September of next year, can only be accessed through a special browser. 

Worried about web safety? As far as internet activities go, getting on the dark web is about as safe as surfing Amazon (perhaps even more so, many would argue). But the location is sure to scare some people—and that’s the point. 

“One of the goals of this show is to bring people to a place they are not familiar with—even if it’s just one click away,” Eva and Franco Mattes tell Artnet News over email.

“If the surface internet is like Art Basel, then the dark net would be your artist-run space in a dirty basement in Bushwick—a place that’s a bit harder to find, that works mainly on word of mouth, but where you might discover something unexpected,” they say.

From now until January 2021, a new artwork by one of the six participating artists and collectives will debut on the site every two weeks. The first up is Horvitz’s Nostalgia 500, a project for which the artist is permanently deleting 500 digital photographs from his personal archive, one image at a time. Later on, artist Vladan Joler will introduce a map and essay based on what he calls “New Extractivism,” the process through which biodata is harvested by commercial and governmental interests.

David Horvitz, <i>Nostalgia 500</i> (2020).

David Horvitz, Nostalgia 500 (2020).

For Franco and Eva Mattes, these projects represent the artistic potential of the dark web, an arena that exists far from the corporatized, data industrial complex that is the internet.

“Art could benefit from a less monochromatic, less centralized, less controlled, and less profit-driven environment,” the duo say. “Maybe the dark net is just a metaphor for something we are struggling to find in the art world, an alternative.”

To visit “Time Out of Joint,” download the Tor Browser at www.torproject.org and visit http://fjroxjgxhmd2ymp2.onion.

Editor’s Note: This article originally mentioned a project by Amalia Ulman, who has since withdrawn from the show. The artist, the exhibition’s curators, and the artist’s galleries did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the reasons for the withdrawal. 

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