Klaus Gallery Builds a "New Wall" for Online Art


Michelle Ceja's Wet Code opened earlier this month in Klaus von Nichtssagend's Lower East Side venue, an installation marking the launch of the gallery's new online exhibition space. Initially shown as a browser-based collage of gifs, Quicktime video, MP3s, and HTML, Wet Code also existed as a one-night installation of projections bearing a similar aesthetic. Klausgallery.net will see rotating two-week online exhibitions curated by artist Duncan Malashock, with periodic in-real-life installations by artists in Klaus Gallery proper. "We wanted to accommodate artists whose practices wouldn't ordinarily fit into a physical exhibition space," says Sam Wilson, co-owner of Klaus von Nichtssagend, "Now it's kind of like we have another wall in our space specifically made for this kind of work." Adds fellow co-owner Rob Hult, "It was also a way to satiate a growing curiosity about artists working with the medium. I saw Duncan speak on the history of internet-related art practices at Nurture Art and felt compelled to ask him to work with us on an online project."

Many conversations later brought Klausgallery.net, which developed from a more modest singular art project to a full-blown online exhibition space.

As it stands, the artist line-up may seem like a who's-who in a current internet social sphere to some, building on the web-specific dynamic of building one's practice in tandem with and through a community of peers. Though many included in Malashock's participant list are connected socially via the internet, specifically via Facebook or through the surf club Computers Club, it also ranges widely in geographic location and practice, from established Dutch artists Constant Dullaart and Harm van den Dorpel to more emerging Stateside artists Bea Fremderman, Sara Ludy, and Billy Rennekamp. Presciently, Malashock has chosen many artists whose work successfully navigates both online and physical spaces, with Ceja's Wet Code as a perfect inaugural project.

Perhaps more interesting to consider here are the ramifications of the involvement of a well-respected Manhattan-based commercial gallery in the artistic practices of primarily internet-based artists. We all knew it was coming for some time, and luckily it was the curiosity of the Klaus von Nichtssagend crew that have made this most ambitious land-grab. Klaus Gallery seems to have hit the nail on the head in terms of facilitating internet-related art practices as they exist today and fitting them into the gallery context—offering hi-res gif versions on USBs, editioned DVDs, and URL contracts. But more exciting will be the future scenarios in which Klaus Gallery and Malashock reinvent the still loosely defined status quo of selling internet-related art work.

Harm van den Dorpel's "The Four Master Tropes" opens tomorrow, with a following exhibition by Billy Rennekamp opening November 29.