December 10, 2022
With scholar Mikhel Proulx, I co-organized Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow, the first major U.S. museum exhibition of CyberPowWow which opened on December 10, 2022 at the New Museum.
Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow is a restaging of one of the first major online exhibitions, a project that was first launched in 1997 by Nation to Nation, a First Nations artist collective co-founded by Skawennati, Ryan Rice, and Eric Robertson. Described as "an Aboriginally determined territory in cyberspace," CyberPowWow presented works by Indigenous artists—sometimes in dialogue with settler artists. This presentation took place at the New Museum in New York City, which sits on unceded Indigenous land, specifically the homeland of the Lenape peoples.
CyberPowWow took place from 1997-2004 in a graphical chat software called The Palace, on the web, and in more than twenty cultural centers internationally. At these "Gathering Sites," community members convened together to eat, talk, and to have some of their first experiences of the internet.
To experience CyberPowWow, a viewer would dress their digital avatar according to their whim to traverse and interact within vibrant and multifaceted, artist-made virtual rooms. These environments, representing an expansive range of artist styles, collectively express, from a distinctly Indigenous perspective, a familiar excitement for possibilities of connection on the early internet. Recurring themes include self-portraiture, archival photography, geographical maps, and natural landscapes. These leitmotifs transpired through technological, artistic, and semantic identities of the exhibition curators and participating artists. The uniqueness of the overall aesthetic and collection of innovative, intimate artworks mark CyberPowWow as a landmark exhibition in the history of net art.
Rhizome Presents: CyberPowWow utilizes legacy computer environments to display restored versions of the four roughly biennial exhibitions as well as ephemera from the Indigenous Art Archive, video documentation of the works, and a remake of the CyberPowWow logo illustration. In the spirit of CyberPowWow's in-person community gatherings of that time, the freshly restored versions were shown alongside potted plants, with food and drink to share as viewers experienced CyberPowWow together again. Today, CyberPowWow is ripe for reconsideration as an early example of Skawennati and her collaborators' vision for an Indigenous future.
Photos by Cameron Kelly McCleod
May 14, 2022
I commissioned The Longest Whistlegraph Ever (so far), a composition by the artist collective Whistlegraph, which debuted in New York as a live performance at the New Museum on May 14, 2022.
Whistlegraphs are audio-visual digital artworks performed manually by drawing and singing. Every whistlegraph results in a poetic image through the performance of a reproducible score.
Video of a subsequent performance, recorded in Ashland, Oregon, was published online alongside materials from the composition process, including manuscripts, recordings, and a full graphic score. In addition, I worked with Whistlegraph to develop and administer online workshops for children, where participants learned about computer software and art history while creating their own artistic compositions. Reflections and documentation from these workshops are viewable on Rhizome.
Alex Freundlich, Camille Klein, and Jeffrey Scudder draw, sing, and make videos together as Whistlegraph. Since forming the group in 2020, they regularly share their work on their TikTok account, @whistlegraph, where they have over two million followers. Over the past few years, they have honed a distinctive style and practice that speaks to embodied cognition, art education, and experimental composition for live performance.
October 30, 2021
I curated Wet Networks in the Queens Museum’s Watershed gallery which houses The Relief Map of New York City’s Water Supply System. The exhibition presented artifacts and commissions from an experimental residency at artist Shu Lea Cheang’s Catskill farm, located near the Pepacton reservoir, which feeds New York City. I facilitated the residency for artists Tecumseh Ceaser, Nabil Hassein, Melanie Hoff, Christopher Lin, Jan Mun, and TJ Shin, setting up camp and meals, authoring a community agreement, and inviting teachers: a local mycologist and the Founder of the Center for Algonquin Culture. Beyond the desire to highlight the educational artifact, The Relief Map, I wanted to discover how living and learning with artists impacts the outcome of an exhibition. The artist commissions provided encounters with images, sculpture, soil and living matter, databases, and Algonquin history, that illuminate the relationships between new technologies and traditional ways of knowing, the challenges of collective care, and how land and water shape and are shaped by us.
Wet Networks was presented in partnership with Rhizome and CycleX and was on view October 30, 2021–January 30, 2022 at the Queens Museum.
Photos by Dario Lasagni.
June 7, 2018
Outside the Palace of Heavenly Purity, a group exhibition I co-curated with Diane Zhou and Son Kit, presents narratives that complicate the prevailing idea of globalization as a force emanating directly from privileged Western centers. Artworks by Ho Rui An, Jen Liu, Ingrid Zhuang, Zheng Bo, and O Zhang engaged a variety of speculative models to explore emergent networks of Chinese power within the global landscape as well as local permutations.
The exhibition title refers to the former location of a controversial Starbucks franchise within the Forbidden City. First opened in 2000, the cafe closed in 2007 in the wake of an online campaign spearheaded by TV anchor Rui Chenggang, who argued that its presence was a neo-colonial intrusion of Western “coffee culture” into Chinese cultural heritage.
The exhibition was on view June 7 - August 5 at bitforms gallery in New York.
June 7, 2018
I commissioned and curated The Pointer, an exhibition by Ryan Kuo featuring three new software artworks addressing the construct of whiteness and its involvement in technological aesthetics and productivity. Kuo’s approach wryly follows the American “model minority” identity politic, in which the tools are accepted as a given and either successfully made one’s own, or enforce further assimilation into whiteness. The Pointer was on view June 7 - August 5 at bitforms gallery in New York.