Net Art Anthology, Rhizome's two-year online exhibition presenting 100 works of restored and re-performed net art, which is generously supported by the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, launches today.
The exhibition will play out over two years, with one new work added each week to a microsite designed by Lukas Eigler-Harding. The microsite serves as an index of hypertextual narratives that link out to artworks that are staged on a range of distributed sites, from Rhizome's archive servers to the New Museum store. In keeping with this, the visual identity of Net Art Anthology is a default HTML hyperlink, which changes from blue to purple when the exhibition has been visited.
VNS Matrix's A Cyberfeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century (1991) inaugurates the program. This work embodies key aspects of early networked culture production: it was collaborative, plagiaristic, possibly drug-fueled, pornographic, and circulated by any means possible, both online and off. As a billboard, a poster, and an online text, it gave form at a crucial moment to the emerging discourse of cyberfeminism, which aggressively reasserted the importance of sex and the body in cyberspace. The work is restaged for this exhibition as an online email form, which allows visitors to receive the manifesto in their inbox and a poster which may be downloaded for personal use or acquired at the New Museum store.
A Cyberfeminist Manifesto will be followed in weeks two and three by Eduardo Kac's Reabracadabra (1985) and Olia Lialina's My Boyfriend Came Back from the War (1996).
Net Art Anthology will be divided into five chapters: early network cultures and early web (through 1998); Flash and blogs (1999-2005); surf clubs, early postinternet art, and social media platforms (2006-2011); and mobile apps and social media saturation (2012-2018). The final chapter will reprise all time periods, addressing gaps that emerge over the course of the project.
Selections are taking place on an ongoing basis led by Rhizome's artistic director Michael Connor, supported by Rhizome's assistant curator of net art Aria Dean and Rhizome's preservation director Dragan Espenschied, as well as other Rhizome staff and a network of external advisors. Advisors for Chapters 1 and 2 of Net Art Anthology include Inke Arns, Josephine Bosma, Steve Dietz, Ricardo Dominguez, Auriea Harvey, Brian MacKern, Monica Narula, and Mendi + Keith Obadike. Feedback is welcome, and may be sent to email@example.com.
The anthology can only ever hope to present a partial, subjective view of its vast subject, but the aim is to represent net art as an expansive, rich, and hybrid set of artistic practices that overlap with many media and disciplines. The works presented exemplify the ways in which the net has made it possible to give form to emerging subjectivities and model new forms of collective cultural practice. It also seeks to represent particular aesthetic, subjective, political, and conceptual positions which have taken on special importance in networks of artists.
In conjunction with the beginning of the project, Rhizome will host an event at New Museum on Thursday, October 27, 2016. The Art Happens Here: Net Art Anthology Launch will feature a presentation of the online exhibition, followed by a panel discussion bringing together a group of artists (Ricardo Dominguez, Olia Lialina, Mark Tribe, and Martha Wilson) who championed distinct and often conflicting approaches to net art practice in the mid to late 1990s. The event will also livestream.
Net Art Anthology is made possible by the generous support of