Viola Angiolini art
Arts & Culture Visual Arts

Isolation and Connectedness: Viola Angiolini on Art and Art Viewing During the Pandemic

Viola Angiolini is fully immersed in the world of Modern and Contemporary Art, working as an Art Writer, Researcher, and as the Director of Research and Curatorial Projects at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery in New York City. She also previously co-founded Armada, an independent art space, in Milan. 

In particular, Angiolini has been an advocate for emerging young artists whose work distinguishes them from other contemporary work. Her articles for Flash Art and Mousse Magazine have further solidified her extensive knowledge in the area. She is currently working on a catalog of significant Street Art figures. 

Artvoice recently interviewed Angiolini on the subject of how the creation, distribution, and viewing of Contemporary Art have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent influence on daily life, as well as political, economic, and social conditions worldwide. 

These effects will no doubt continue to be studied and analyzed in the years and decades to come, but Angiolini covered a great deal of the more immediate effects and how they have altered the ways that artists, curators, and audiences connect and interact, both with each other and with the art in question. 

You’ll find our full interview with Angiolini below. 

At the start of quarantine, did you have any ideas about how it would impact galleries and other art spaces? 

I think no one could fully predict the long-term impact of the new economic and social conditions we are facing. What was clear from the start was that the art world was going to confront the necessity of developing alternative ways of connecting with the public. 

For an industry that is characterized by hyper-connectedness and global mobility, being at a standstill forced changes and creative solutions. The immediate response was creating virtual viewing rooms and studio visits, and a variety of webinars and online content.

Viola Angiolini art
Art Writer and Researcher Viola Angiolini.

Do you have any thoughts on the rise of virtual gallery viewings? Do these allow guests a similar experience to the one they would have had in-person? 

In my experience as both a user and a content creator, they are a great resource to maintain end expand the public’s engagement with art. Social media has been an integrated part of the art industry for a while now. 

But with galleries and museums forced to close for prolonged periods of time, social media have suddenly become the primary way to cultivate the public’s engagement. Virtual consumption of art cannot replace in-person experiences, but the rising abundance of online resources is certainly a great opportunity for the general public, art professionals, and collectors alike to discover new artists and learn.

Do you think the current situation will have a long-term effect on how people engage with art?

I think the expanded online engagement will continue to grow. It’s a tendency that we were already experiencing. The current situation consolidated it. At the same time, people have been missing the social space of museums and galleries and are increasingly eager to go back.

Have you already seen some new pieces from contemporary artists that attempt to respond to the pandemic or the conditions of quarantine? 

Works of art are the artist’s response to the physical, social, and emotional environment they inhabit. While these months of uncertainly and unrest have caused most to struggle, the physical isolation and abundance of time to spend in the studio created profitable circumstances for many to develop their work and further their research.

Outside of the current situation, what do you feel have been some of the most compelling trends in contemporary art over the last 10 years?

Like every other form of expression of our society, art has been deeply influenced by the Internet. While the Net art of the previous generation used the Web to create works of art that were meant to only exist online, artists in the post-Internet generation, many of whom are digital natives, incorporate the aesthetic and employ the strategies of the Internet in the creation of art objects that exist in the real world. This includes paintings, sculptures, installations, and performance art as well.

Viola Angiolini contemporary art

Can you tell us about your process for seeking out and promoting the work of emerging artists? 

I have always believed in the importance of cultivating a community and developing strong connections. I think this is a crucial aspect of the development of an artist’s research and career. 

It is not a case that the majority of the artists considered to be the most influential of the past century were part of art movements and groups. A community can be a fertile environment to share and critique ideas and push things forward. When you find interesting artists, it is likely that they will be surrounded by other equally talented artists. 

In terms of cultivating and promoting emerging artists, I work to provide them with the right platform to experiment and develop their work. I am referring to exhibitions, but also collaborations, publications, and interviews. At the same time, the advice I always give is to prioritize and only work on projects that are truly meaningful.

Are there any current pieces of writing or research you’re working on that you would like to mention? 

My writing has been focusing on younger artists, whose work I consider challenging and forward-thinking. I enjoy conducting interviews to deepen my understating of their practices. Over the past few months, I have also been collaborating on a forthcoming publication on the major artistic figures of the street art scene of the 1980s. This catalog will come out next year.

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