THE DIGITAL DIASPORA
The Digital Diaspora is an exhibition exchange partnership co-organised by Centrala Space in collaboration with Short Circuit, Birmingham, and Studio 44, Stockholm.
Based on the topics of unity and division this timely project lays particular emphasis on Europe as its arrival marks 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent overthrow of Communist rule. Providing an opportunity to reflect on the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening up of Eastern Europe, the exhibition also contrastingly takes place during the British Exit from the European Union. The project offers a chance to speculate on the uncertain future of the UK and how its departure from the EU will impact on the the Central and Eastern European (CEE) diaspora that have settled here.
Through an exhibition open call, artists from CEE communities living in the UK are invited to respond to these themes and also consider the following: How do we continue to sustain international discourse and collaborative practices in light of tightened border controls and restricted movement? How will this impact the cultural output of the UK? How will this affect artistic development?
The exhibition will open at Centrala in Birmingham and Studio 44 in Stockholm on the same night, presenting itself to two different European audiences – one remaining in the EU and the other in pursuit of its former sovereignty and independence.
Mirroring the physical movement of the diasporic communities, the artworks will also migrate in an attempt to bypass physical boundaries and establish more human and digital connections. This innovative structure requires artworks to arrive at each exhibition venue independently using the internet as a conduit. Artists working with photography, moving image, digital and new media will be selected, as their interdisciplinary mode of practice produces work in a pre-digitised format. Artworks will then be transported via the web to materialise in the gallery space in a variety of visual formats such as computer graphics and animation, virtual reality film, augmented reality, internet art, interactive art, video games and 3D printing.
This process aims to produce an aesthetic cloning of the same grouping of works as they are received at both venues and proposes a fluid, experimental approach of exhibition-making that allows the artworks to continually ebb and flow between physical and virtual forms and thresholds. It further offers contributing artists and curators the opportunity to work together, take risks and test out works in new formats and spaces and consider how the process has affected or ‘corrupted’ the work.
The collaborative nature of this international project is key to its successful functioning and pertinent in its reflection of the increasing number of contemporary practitioners working together to share skills and exchange knowledge and experience. This method enables the sharing of new ideas, draws connections between artists across geographical boundaries, attracts new audiences, allows for the diffusion of knowledge and local cultures, provides fresh interpretations of artists’ work and brings opportunities to share production costs. It meanwhile opens up a continued international dialogue between artists and curators and ultimately promotes transnational partnership and mobility.
Centrala is a multifunctional art space in Birmingham run by the Polish Expats Association, a non-profit organisation presenting art from Central and Eastern Europe and the UK.
Short Circuit is an international platform for collaborative practices in moving image and digital art. Developed and directed by Independent Curator and Producer, Aly Grimes.