In the 15th century, European countries embarked on expeditions to foreign territories in the search of new resources and wealth. Including Christopher Columbus’s accidental arrival to America in 1492. These expeditions facilitated the establishment of Western Europe culture in other regions and the export of wealth, knowledge and cultural goods, including the flora and fauna, from these ‘new worlds’.
The objects, living organisms and archives brought to these countries were used as the foundation to develop knowledge in Western Europe and were displayed to the public as a symbol of imperial power. Contained within new public spaces, botanical gardens, zoos and natural history museums, these items served a combined educational-recreational purpose. Since their inception, these venues have acted as a key factor to spread the notion of exoticism and otherness into the European subconscious. The cultural influence of these places remains relevant for science and society to the day.
Since then, the use of new technologies have played a key role in facilitating the import of culture from new territories, including living organisms. And as new technologies develop, expeditions are back in vogue. We more increasingly see an arising interest from European countries and the U.S.A. in researching and exploring new space territories. Terra Incognita interrogates how these new worlds will be colonised in the 21st century?
Juan Covelli is a Colombian artist currently living and working in Bogotá. A graduate of MA Contemporary Photography; Practices and Philosophies at Central Saint Martins, London, his practice revolves around the technological potentials of 3D scanning, modelling and printing to readdress entrenched arguments of repatriation and colonial histories. Using video, modelling, data sets and coding he creates IRL and URL installation-based works which collapse historical practices with current models of display and digital aesthetics. Solo and duel shows include How to dust the surface, Warrington Museum & Art Gallery, Warrington (2018); and Nexcuitilamatl, Galería ADM, Mexico City (2017). As well as group shows Roca Lunar, Planetario Distiral, Bogota (2019); INSIDE INTEL, Centre for Investigative Journalism; and New Materialities in the Digital Age, Harlesden High Street Gallery, London; The image of things, Guttormsgaard Archive, Oslo; and Neo Norte, Fundación Cultural de Providencia, Santiago De Chile (2018). He has presented his work at Universidad el Bosque, Bogota and the UCL Multimedia Anthropology Lab, London and was an invited guest artist for the In-ruins residency programme. He is the curator the group show of Fake plastic forevers & détournement of digital colonialism, Internet Moon Gallery, online (2018).
Spread the Virus is a year long monthly curatorial project, co-organised with an invited guest curator, culminating in an online exhibition of 12 artists. As a result, the show evolves over 12 months, with one artist being announced each in response to the previous one, building over the course of the year into a group show which responds to unfolding events and reflects contemporary digital discourse. Like an uncontrollable pandemic, the exhibition integrates the functionality to shift, evolve, and re-direct its course, charting an unexpected course as it spreads itself chronically and through the internet rhizome. Consequently, in February 2020, it will culminate with an online show which intends to chart the year through aesthetic as well as social and political lenses.
Spread the Virus Vol. 2 is curated by Martin Mayorga & Vanessa Murrell. In collaboration with Pita Arreola-Burns & Elliott Burns.