May 17, 2018 | By Taryn Tavella
Want your artwork shown in a gallery? Produced by creative agencies Bobby Redd, The Bosco and AGW, #InstantArtist is a new pop-up exhibit at 644 Lorimer Street in Brooklyn. Up until Thursday, March 31st, the exhibit sources its artwork via hashtags, allowing anyone to contribute their own Instagram masterpiece. We sat down with Bobby Redd co-founder Tony Blahd to pick his brain about the story behind the project, sourcing artwork through social media and Instagram as an art form.
How did the idea for #InstantArtist come about? What’s the goal of the project?
My company, Bobby Redd, had some space at our office in Brooklyn that we’ve used off and on for a small gallery. We’ve partnered with The Bosco and AGW on a number of projects in the past but we wanted to do something great at this space before moving to a new office this month. We knew we wanted to create a photographic experience that would have both physical and digital components. We had a few conversations and came up with #InstantArtist as a simple way to accomplish that.
How do you think Instagram is changing the way we experience art? Is Instagram an art form?
What makes Instagram so great, is also what makes it flawed; I consume more art than ever before, but I also consume it faster than ever and therefore I probably don’t give it all of the attention it deserves. This project aims to be the best of both worlds – It’s open sourced, there’s a huge variety of cool work, but at the same time we are allowing for a more thoughtful, physical engagement with images on a gallery wall.
I don’t think Instagram is necessarily an art form in and of itself. I think it’s just another medium for artists to reach an audience and share their work.
There’s a lot of controversy around copyright laws, Instagram and the art world especially in regards to Richard Prince’s recent work. How does the exhibit play a part in this debate?
We aren’t trying to commercialize the exhibit at all, so I think that’s where we diverge from the Richard Prince debate. Most people that post are aware of the deal. The photo is going to print and we are going to put it on the wall. They learn that either through press or just walking by the space and seeing the signage. However some of the photos we get are from people who have been using that hashtag on their images long before we created this project and are probably totally unaware that we are hanging their work on a wall in Brooklyn. We have all these artists in this giant “group show” but not everyone knows they are participating.
What was the process for curating this exhibit? How did you feel not knowing what the entries would be ahead of time?
We were excited about not knowing what we would get. That is the fun of the project. It’s only passively curated by us – we organized how the work would be hung, using thematic groupings. The more active curators are all of the people who submit, collectively.
How did you decide which images would go into the show and which images wouldn’t?
We are showing everything. It would be unfair to do it any other way. We put everything on the wall that was printed in the two weeks leading up to the opening on March 26th. Everything after that was still printed, but shown only in a pile under the printer. It seemed like an objective enough process of selection. What we intentionally wanted to avoid was us giving any value judgments on the work.
Do you have any future pop-ups or projects we should look out for?
We are designing/building a pop-up store for the online retailer Fab. It’s their first brick and mortar store and it’s opening at Turnstyle, a brand new shopping concourse at Columbus Circle in in New York City.
In addition we are doing a few other pop-ups and a few parties in New York throughout the spring and summer.
Like this? Love Art? Follow WGSN Associate City by City Editor (and art-lover) Sara Radin on Instagram here.
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