Net Art Anthology in El Paquete Semanal

Netart Latino Database (2004) by Brian Mackern is included in the online exhibition Net Art Anthology and the gallery exhibition “The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics,” on view at the New Museum through May 26.

To coincide with the Havana Biennial, artist Nestor Siré invited Rhizome to present a work as part of El Paquete Semanal, an informal medium for circulating information, music, and video in Cuba. Siré and his sometimes collaborator Julia Weist describe El Paquete as

a one-terabyte media collection that is aggregated weekly in Cuba and circulated across the country via in-person file sharing. The package usually contains between 15,000 and 18,000 files, depending on the week and your distributor, and it covers a dizzying array of content including software, sports, soap operas, web shows, animation, manga, movies and TV, video games, music, magazines, and more. 

In practice, it serves as “an illicit economy for renting media outside of government control.” Since 2015, Siré has organized an ongoing program he calls !!!Sección A R T E, which circulates “art news, current and upcoming gallery openings, books, documentaries and open calls for artists.” It also includes a “F O L D E R =gallery=” for artworks specifically created to be displayed in the context of El Paquete.

For !!!Sección A R T E !!!Act[No.22], alongside projects by a range of other artists and writers, Rhizome presents materials from Brian Mackern’s project Netart Latino Database (1999–2004). The project, which is included in our ongoing online exhibition Net Art Anthology and in the related gallery exhibition “The Art Happens Here: Net Art’s Archival Poetics,” was an artistic effort to catalogue online artistic production by artists of Latin America, a vibrant network that can now only glimpsed in surviving fragments on the web and in Mackern’s documentation. Users in Cuba will be able to access a pdf of the Netart Latino Database book and a 2009 video walkthrough of some of the sites catalogued by Mackern.