IN SITU edition 4

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Susak Expo 2020 had to be cancelled because of the pandemic and we don’t know when the next expo will take place but in the meantime Susak Expo is teaming up with Shim Art network with TSDAP to create a permanent record of works and projects by artists made during these times and often outside their usual spaces. The idea is to have this permanent digital catalogue to grow with new works. It will be interactive so if your work is in video or are a musician or sound artist, it can contain links to Vimeo, YouTube etc together with links to your websites etc.  It is free to apply, you can do so here: apply here , if your work gets selected, there will be a £15 / $20 / €20 fee. If you do apply and select Susak Expo in the scroll down menu, Susak Expo will receive a cut which will go towards organising the next Susak Expo.

The 8th Susak expo was due to take place in May 2020 but had to be cancelled (postponed to a date we won’t know for a while). 

Susak expo is a contemporary art biennale founded by Herzog Dellafiore and con-artist Daniel Devlin, that has taken place on the remote Croatian island of Susak since 2006. The original reason for organising Susak expo was as a reaction to all the art fairs, biennales and museums of contemporary art sprouting up everywhere, and to highlight the absurdity of this proliferation by staging an international art biennale in the most unlikely of places where, apart from a few people seeing it by mistake and, of course, the participating artists, the chances are no-one will see it.

Even though it started as a joke it gradually transformed into a space and time where every two years artists (including those who who haven’t yet realised that we are all artists) got together in a spirit of exchange. Conversation were had, art objects were made, poems, performances, music … but mainly, being together.

As the expo started growing in popularity, it attracted artists who would like to take part and some artists would say that they would like to be in susak expo but can’t make it in person so will send an art object and I have always been clear that to be part of it you have to be in person even if you plan to do nothing there.

Since the pandemic most of the ways we have approached making and experiencing art has had to change; art experienced as in Susak expo has had to be put on pause but artists have carried on making art and I together with millions of artists around the world have kept on communicating and exchanging ideas but in the new virtual ways which include Facebook, Instagram, I imagine Twitter, Zoom meetings etc.

I did consider replacing Susak expo 2020 with a series of live zoom meetings as many other events have done but the idea depressed me and the next expo will happen when hopefully things will be back to a new normal where people can meet up again in the same way we used to and as a consequence Susak expo will be better than it ever was.

Susak expo can’t be replaced but other things can be done in the meantime, In a Zoom conversation (or was it Skype?) with Peter Hopkins (a New York City artist and gallerist; and a frequent collaborator/host of a few of my odder art “moments”) we spoke of our shared desire to see this unique moment of history not go unnoticed. Peter  is also the co-founder of the SHIM Art Network, a global art resource sharing platform, and had been at work on an art idea that would try to allow us to combine our own separate- but not dissimilar- views on how artists might be able to record their own reactions to the quarantine. In Situ then became our shared project. The premise was simple. I would develop an interactive hyperlinked e-catalog that would allow every artist who wished to share with others a record of what, or how they had responded to this lock-down. This would align quite nicely with the strange aesthetics of the Susak Expo and with Hopkins’ own concept of networked artists who share risk and receive benefits like his democratised use of Artsy for all SHIM members. The Expo had always been pushing artists to think about their art without the traditional art object as the focus. The goal on the island was always to treat that idyllic space as a retreat from the tyranny of feeling that often obliges artists to make market-ready things as a precondition to their own artistic identity.  In Situ had been premised on the hope that artists would not see this as a chance to show off images of things they had made while sheltering that they might otherwise would have made in a studio, but rather embrace the very definition of the term in situ as a way to record some stranger idea or practice they might have undertaken during this time that was intrinsically inseparable from where they were living or staying. 

The concept of In Situ also could then establish that artists had indeed used this time to find ways to become even more creative now that were temporarily  freed from the restraints of “object making”. This catalog would show the slight gestures ,  the capturing of small or seemingly unimportant thoughts, and even the odd “gallows humour” many artists embraced now.  If properly curated I think In Situ will be a wonderful way to help fill in the “lost space” of the pandemic. A way to humorously, but critically recall many years from now what we each did to survive this horrible moment.