CORONAVIRUS is digitizing the art world! By Andrea Concas

    How can a virus push the art world to turn to the online?

    In the moment of forced isolation, galleries, fairs and artists discover online.

    From quarantine to the web: art professionals sharpen their wits to reduce losses.

    How is it possible that a virus such as COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, to which unsafe symptoms are associated, can somehow bring innovation and progress the complex world of art?

    Well yes, we are going through an incredible historical moment that we could never have imagined a few months ago, with scenarios that see cities in quarantine, panic for supplies and also blocks of entry for Italians abroad.

    Italy is cornered, with over 11 quarantined municipalities and cities like Milan literally deserted as if it were full August: canceled events, exhibitions and museums closed to the public by order of the mayor.

    The news has just been communicated that the Salone del Mobile and the Milan Design Week have been moved from 16 to 21 June 2020, in conjunction with one of the most important art fairs in the world, Art Basel in Basel.

    An event like the Milan Design Week creates an armature of about 220 million euros, of which 40 million are destined for the shopping and catering of those who arrive in the city, while the Swiss one of Art Basel is even estimated at over 500 million dollars!

    It is evident that, in case of postponement or even cancellation of these events, the economic damage is enormous, especially for the art market where, the postponement of the auctions of Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonham’s, the inaugurations of MIA Photo Fair or the cancellation of Art Basel Hong Kong creates losses which, due to their size and occasion, are totally, or largely, irrecoverable and therefore real decreases in the turnover of the sector operators.

    And it is here that, while Italy is concerned with smartworking to solve remote work derived from quarantine and precautionary measures, here the art world discovers digitization and online to make up for losses.

    Some might say “virtue of necessity”, but in these hours we are witnessing a real race to digital where it is finally possible to participate in fairs, auctions and online vernissages.

    To compensate for the cancellation of the Hong Kong fair, Art Basel will inaugurate a virtual fair on the same dates with an actual online show, complete with public and private exhibition halls, exhibitions and areas dedicated to VIP previews, offering a real platform for their collectors.

    The “Online Viewing Rooms” of Art Basel for this time, be free of charge for those who have reserved space in the Far East, while they have declared that in the future they will extend this initiative to all other editions and cities of the fair as an additional service.

    The Italian Raffaella Cortese due to the prohibition by the Municipality of Milan to organize public events, for the opening Vernissage of the exhibition “Patriarchy is History”  , she has decided to have it told by the artist Yael Bartana himself online through the social channels of his homonymous gallery.

    The gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin has decided to open his smallest gallery, of only 70sqm, in Paris, whose peculiarity in addition to intimacy, will be a mega-screen projecting a selection of high-definition works exhibited in other locations around the world of its Perrotin Galleries.

    It all starts therefore with the Coronavirus that brought the attention of the market and art world players to evaluate the strength, the opportunity and we hope the effectiveness of online and new technologies applied to art.

    It is therefore hoped that something positive will remain of this dark period of history, just like the digitization of the art world and the possibility for sector players to be able to appreciate, grasp and recognize the potential of online for this sector.


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