ArtPrize is an exhibition and art competition opening in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on September 23rd. The exhibition features entries from many national and international artists who have created proposals that can be found on ArtPrize.org. As opposed to having one main gallery and curator, artists are matched via the website’s network with conventional and unconventional spaces in Grand Rapids. The public will be able to visit and vote on the best artist who will receive a $250,000 award. The innovation lies in decentralizing the curator’s role for such a large scale exhibition.
The art world–with the exception of some new media art spaces like Eyebeam and Rhizome– has been slow to move in utilizing the Internet to organize, create and present shows. Admittedly, curators have a have a hard task using the Internet to present shows because most fine art cannot be presented in a two-dimension digital form, but some have chosen to use it to inform the process. New York Magazine dubbed the 2008 incarnation of the Whitney Biennial the “Facebook Biennial”, an exhibition that sought to make a statement out of the chance gatherings (i.e. bar meet ups cum art performances) and “networks” of young artists. Other exhibitions like the New Museum’s Unmonumental have incorporated the online exhibition directly into the show–but with a curatorial vision at hand. Still, these are small steps in marrying the Internet’s sensibilities with presenting fine art.
Socializing the curatorial practice is a bigger step in incorporating the digital world with the often perceived elitism in the fine arts. In so doing, ArtPrize is taking a big risk by relying on the artists and venues to build the show’s tone; it will be interesting to see if disavowing the curator’s role affects the cohesiveness of the message and presentation.