The Instagram Account Celebrating Cancelled Art Exhibitions

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Art of Social Distancing
Candice Breitz: Love Story, at Tate LiverpoolVia @artofsocialdistancing on Instagram

Art of Social Distancing is providing a space to celebrate artists whose work has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns the world over

This article is published as part of our #CultureIsNotCancelled campaign:

Since the introduction of country-wide lockdowns around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, art institutions, museums and galleries have had to temporarily close their doors and shutter exhibitions. On March 23, the UK lockdown was announced and that evening, the Instagram account @artofsocialdistancing was launched, with the aim of showcasing exhibitions that have been affected by the pandemic – the same spirit that’s #CultureIsNotCancelled campaign was created in. 

“It felt like such an injustice for the artists who had worked so hard for such a long time on these particular shows and for the institutions, curators and gallerists who had dedicated so much to them to simply be closed or postponed,” the account’s creator, who works as an artist liaison at a London gallery and has chosen to remain anonymous, says. The account has been steadily receiving submissions and posting regularly about the multitude of exhibitions that never were. “At the start I shared the account with some artist friends and since then I have received lots of submissions from major institutions, blue-chip galleries, Fine Art BA/MFA courses and many independent spaces.”

Though based in London, @artofsocialdistancing is posting about interrupted exhibitions the world over, with detailed information and imagery on each artist and show. From Candice Breitz: Love Story at Tate Liverpool, Urs Lüthi: Trademarks at The Women’s Darkroom and Yasmine Nasser Diaz: Soft Powers at the Arab American National Museum to Ishbel Myerscough: Grief, Longing and Love at Flowers Gallery, Isaac Julien: America at Jessica Silverman Gallery and An-My Lê: On Contested Terrain at Carnegie Museum of Art. Working from both follower submissions and research, the account is shedding light on how the pandemic is affecting the art world – and providing a directory of exhibitions that can now be experienced digitally. 

@artofsocialdistancing has also become a way of discovering new artists and galleries. “It has been particularly interesting to see how different institutions have created new digital campaigns and the creative ways they are continuing to reach their audiences,” says the account’s creator. “Some of my favourite new galleries I have discovered; Please Queue Here in London; Fortnight Institute in New York and Talley Dunn Gallery in Dallas, Texas.” Social media has also played a role in showcasing support networks since lockdowns were imposed across the world. “Creating the account has also really opened my eyes to how wide-reaching the impact has been for the arts community. Artists Support Pledge is using Instagram to help artists and makers to share and sell their work. New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) started the Gallery Relief Fund an initiative to offer grants supporting commercial art galleries, non-profits, and alternative spaces working with contemporary art that have been affected by Covid-19.”

Now more than ever, it feels important to continue supporting artists and creators whose work has been halted for who knows how long; staying vocal about art on Instagram comes as a much-needed message of positivity. “Art has always been something that humanity has craved; the world is full of very talented people, creators, innovators and visionaries and I think seeing and sharing the ways in which creative people are responding to the pandemic is extremely inspiring,” says @artofsocialdistancing. “Whether it is MFA students reimagining their degree shows, or scientists working out new ways to design PPE equipment. Art and culture will continue to evolve with changing times and technologies and I think this gives us hope for the future.”