First Look: We=Link

Newly commissioned net art works link global institutions and artists

In partnership with Chronus Art Center (CAC) and a group of international contemporary art spaces that support born-digital practice, Rhizome and the New Museum have commissioned new works of net art for WeChat, the essential Chinese social network. New works have been commissioned from Raphaël Bastide, Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, JODI, LI Weiyi, Evan Roth, Slime Engine, Helmut Smits, XU Wenkai (aka aaajiao), Yangachi, and YE Funa. “We=Link” is conceived and curated by ZHANG Ga of Chronus Art Center.


As the global art community reacts to our uncertain moment, this group exhibition links institutions across borders and foregrounds net art’s role in fostering a vibrant digital culture.

As ZHANG Ga has written about the project:

The COVID-19 outbreak raging throughout the world marks an unprecedented historical moment. Social and economic routines have been interrupted, including cultural programming. More than ever, art remains an essential force to galvanize and rejuvenate. In lieu of a physical exhibition, which is prevented by the lockdown, Chronus Art Center sent out an open call to the international media art community in early February to initiate a special online exhibition in response to current uncertainty and anxiety.

The works presented in this exhibition are network-native, exploring the potential of mobile technologies. Many employ with a creative and critical appropriation of various social media platforms. With this online exhibition, CAC aims to reaffirm the importance of net art practice, which offered crucial contributions to early discourses on internet culture during the formative years of new media art as a genre, and which continues to play a vital role in shaping the dynamics of an ever more pervasively networked society.

The title “We=Link: Ten Easy Pieces” denotes a community of solidarity and a network of empowerment. The reference to the film Five Easy Pieces (1970) evokes existential anxiety, a sense of estrangement and soul-searching: ten uneasy pieces indeed. On the other hand, the title “We=Link” provides a silver lining—a streak of hope to carry on. Rather than an explicit outcry against the current public health crisis, this online project addresses the general state of humanity under peril from natural and social disruptions and precariousness—as demonstrated by the coronavirus outbreak, a crisis caused partly by the magnitude of the virus itself and partly by a failure of governance.

The commissioning partners of We=Link are Chronus Art Center, Shanghai; Art Center Nabi, Seoul; and Rhizome, New York.

Additional presenting partners include Arts at CERN, Geneva; e-flux, New York; HeK House of Electronic Arts Basel; iMAL, Brussels; LABORATORIA Art & Science Foundation, Moscow; Leonardo/ISAST; MU Hybrid Art House, Eindhoven; SETI AIR / SETI Institute, Mountain View, CA; and V2_Lab for the Unstable Media, Rotterdam.

Please note that ICTI.ME by JODI contains rapid strobe effects.

Major support for First Look is provided by the Neeson / Edlis Artist Commissions Fund.
The Rhizome Commissions Program is supported by the Jerome Foundation, American Chai Trust, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and individual donors.