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Interview

Meet the curator of the digital exhibition RESET: Salvatore Vitale

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
October 19, 2020
One of the highlights of the Futures Digital Festival is the online exhibition RESET. Through the work of seven Futures artists (Ana Zibelnik, Eva O'Leary, Sanne De Wilde, Garry Loughlin, Dávid Biró, Ela Polkowska and Julie Poly), the show investigates how artists are reacting to the uncertain times we have been facing. We talked with the visual artist Salvatore Vitale, who curated the exhibition.

Salvatore Vitale is an Italian visual artist, editor and educator, currently based in Switzerland. His work incorporates photography, video, sound, writing, and oral discourse, communicated through books, talks, editorial contexts, teaching, and exhibition design. He is also a lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) and co-founder and editor-in-chief of YET Magazine.

Salvatore coached the seven artists selected to the exhibition throughout the months running up to the Futures Digital Festival. In this interview, he talks about the exhibition and the projects presented in the show.

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First of all, can you explain us a little bit about the exhibition’s main theme? Why RESET?

2020 will be remembered as one of the most tumultuous years in modernity. We all had to face something new; we witnessed the need for a change. This is certainly not only due to the pandemic, but mostly to the crisis of political and economic systems which can be seen as the main cause of a process of decadence – and so, the foundation itself of modern societies. In other words, many older predictive processes no longer apply because the conditions of change have themselves changed. Taking these processes as a starting point, I am focusing on the way artists are reacting to this uncertainty, how they impact to social tensions through their often personal and unique visions. Artists can be able to suggest a reset, ways to think and shape different future scenarios through a deep analysis of the present.

How was the selection process for the artists and projects? What were you looking for?

Since Futures Photography is an artist-driven platform, we decided to launch an internal open call to all the Futures artists nominated in the past three years. I openly invited them to respond to the main theme of RESET and re-think, process and/or add layers to their existing or ongoing works. Many responded to this call and a jury composed by the Futures Members selected 7 projects. In this sense, I wasn't looking for something specific as I didn't have full control on the selection process.

Work by Sanne De Wilde-NOOR
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Can you share some details about the projects selected for the exhibition?

As I was expecting, the selected projects are all dealing with compelling issues and, within different contexts and strategies, offer a variety of "Reset declinations": we go from "Do You Accept Cookies?" by David Biro that explores machine vision by challenging face recognition algorithm through the creation of pattern resembling human faces, to "Send Nudes" by Julie Poly who explores the implication of digital intimate relationships. Sanne De Wilde and Eva O'Leary explore the topic of confinement through two very different points of view: while O'Leary presents a very personal and intimate story about her condition of self-isolation, De Wilde explores the impact of the pandemic by presenting the stories of the prisoners of Beveren penitentiary, highlighting mental processes and the feeling of being deprived of physical and social freedom. Ela Polkowska offer the viewers (or users I should say) a sensorial experience, a crude journey through a world of senses – which is mined by the drastic changes the pandemic brought in terms of physical interaction, and to our innermost emotions. Ana Zibelnik and Garry Loughlin brilliantly question the medium of photography and its relation to human perceptions. While Loughlin uses the figure Anatoly Kashpirovsky to look at how the use of text and images can affect our ability to remember certain events and bias our perceptions, Zibelink in "Immortality is Commonplace" makes use of metaphors to explore the precariousness of our environmental conditions.

"I wanted to use existing tools which would allow the artists to focus mainly on the narrative possibilities offered by an online environment."
What are the main difficulties to build an exhibition online? Is it a similar process as curating a more traditional show?

I wouldn't put it in these terms. They are two similar but different processes. The main goal of using a digital space was for me to give the artists the possibilities to experiment different types of narratives and different ways to interact with an audience. The main purpose wasn't to create a perfect online platform to host a digital exhibition. On the contrary, I wanted to use existing tools which would allow the artists to focus mainly on the narrative possibilities offered by an online environment. This means indeed re-thinking interactions, audience engagement, element design, linearity and non-linearity. I worked together with each artist to define the best narrative structure which could take advantage from a digital environment.

The exhibition RESET will be available online until the 31st of October. You can visit the show here.

Work by David Biro
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