MUSEUM 2050 Dispatches


Aishan Zhang & Isabella Ko

During our internship at the Art Institute of Chicago this past summer, we came across the idea of curating an online exhibit together. Having graduated as art history majors, especially amidst a global pandemic, we knew far too well the difficulties of finding arts opportunities right out of school. With mass hiring freezes in the arts sector, we decided to venture into freelance work and proposed to independently curate a virtual exhibition.

Our show See You at 23:00 came about after seeing Chinese artist Wang Guanglin’s works from 2015-2017, which resonated with our complex feelings towards quarantine as well as an increasingly digitalized society. Wang’s ink paintings depict mundane spaces through the perspective of CCTV cameras and invite us to reflect on issues heightened by COVID-19 around mass surveillance, social isolation, and experiencing life online.

Preparing the exhibit was similar to planning an on-site show in many ways, from curatorial research and writing to object display. At the same time, we had to adapt to a specific set of challenges that emerged from working within a virtual space. Some of the paintings incorporated PVC sheet cutouts that were laid atop the surface yet difficult to photograph due to their reflective quality. Consequently, Wang took images of his paintings without the PVC and later used image editing tools to imitate the effects of the material.

In curating a virtual exhibit, we realized the limits of recreating an onsite gallery experience as well as learned to embrace the unique opportunities opened up by an online platform. We are excited to be able to share See You at 23:00 so widely and hope you enjoy it!

Exhibition Link: https://bit.ly/finartspace

Follow us on Instagram @finartspace for more information about future exhibit programs!

About the Author:

Aishan Zhang (@aishanz) is a Chicago-based independent curator and the Director of Media Strategy and Communication at Museum 2050.

Isabella Ko is a recent Northwestern graduate as well as Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Art Institute of Chicago, currently living in the suburbs of Atlanta. 

About the Series:

Museum 2050 has always been about bringing people together through our community’s shared passion for museums and institutional development. As the world slowly and carefully starts reopening, we are checking in weekly with various members of our broader network to share personal reflections, anecdotes and musings about how they and their institutions have been operating in the face of this pandemic. In these incredibly difficult times for all, we hope that these brief vignettes from around the world bring us closer together, and remind us that even when the world stops and museum doors close, we still persevere.