Celebrated and significant exhibitions from the past 15 years—organised by UK institutions such as Tate, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and National Galleries Scotland—will be brought back to life on a new digital platform known as theVOV. The new virtual portal—founded by the charity, Outset Contemporary Art Fund, and the London-based art-science collective Visualogical—is due to launch on 19 April; the first part of theVOV programme will be available on Vortic Art, an extended reality platform, for ten weeks.
Certain key shows due to make a comeback online include Chris Burden at the South London Gallery (2006), Ibrahim Mahama: Parliament of Ghosts at the Whitworth Gallery (2019) and the Andreas Gursky retrospective held at Hayward Gallery in London (2018). On 17 May, the day museums are due to reopen in the UK as part of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, Turner Contemporary will present Katie Paterson & JMW Turner: A place that exists only in moonlight (2019). Other institutions taking part include The Photographers’ Gallery in London and Ikon in Birmingham.
Organisers say they have created a “bespoke virtual gallery for the exhibitions, with some institutions creating exact replicas of their physical gallery to others creating fantastical otherworldly spaces that couldn’t possibly exist in the physical realm”. Four live events series are also planned including “lunchtime tours” with artists and curators as well as “an evening with” programme encompassing panel discussions and “the first ever life-drawing class of a digital avatar”.
All content will be available for free, but visitors to the new site will be invited to donate as part of a fundraising effort for the participating galleries. “TheVOV unlocks new streams of income for public arts organisations, helping them navigate the new challenge of monetising digital content. Season One debuts a pioneering micro-philanthropic model, inviting users to donate to support the arts, with funds raised being distributed equally between the participating institutions, reinforcing the ethos of unity,” according to a statement.
Natasha Hersham and Victoria Westerman, the co-founders of Visualogical, say in a statement: “Welcome to the 'phygital era' [digital and physical]. It is so exciting to be working with 15 of the UK’s leading cultural institutions, experimenting with the latest XR technology.” Outset Contemporary Art Fund adds: “We have seen artists and institutions make content freely available in unprecedented ways. As we always do, Outset observed and listened to what we identified as the most pressing need of our beloved creative sector, and then we sought partners to help us respond.”