Third Internet Pavilion: An interview with curators Francesco Urbano Ragazzi

How is it like working with Miltos Manetas, and how was the idea for the third Internet Pavilion born?

Working with Miltos has something in common with gambling. The Internet Pavilion has no ministers, consuls or commissioners: it is the visionary idea of an artist staring at a brand new world. You are obliged to reason by analogy and affinity, forgetting about any benchmark. “Meeting of souls” could be a good definition, even if it sounds too sentimental.

The first Internet Pavilion, curated by Jan Aman in 2009, was dedicated to the Pirates of the World Wide Web, the second one was titled “The Island of the Nets” and was made possible just for one night on an island by the collaboration of hundreds of happy artists and curators. We were part of the group: everything starts here for us.

With the third Internet Pavilion we are trying to touch a border. We celebrate the Unconnected: those people who don’t have any email or social network account at the present time. The XVI-century chapel of St. Ludovico, near the Maritime Station, is consecrated to them. The Unconnected will be evoked in a painting cycle, a sort of polyptych, nevertheless we aren’t searching for their physical presence. Their existence as shapes of Spirit and the faith we – the connected – have in them is what counts for us. They will stay totally unaware of our project, unless they come and visit the Internet Pavilion in Venice.

Miltos Manetas in the studio_photo by Gaetano Alfano 2013

Miltos Manetas at the computer screen, photo by Gaetano Alfano, 2013.

OUTSIDE OF THE INTERNET II, 2012, Computer print, edition of 3, 102.4x76.7 cm. edition of 3

OUTSIDE OF THE INTERNET II, 2012, Computer print, edition of 3, 102.4×76.7 cm. edition of 3

 

What do you think about working in the art world in the time of the Internet? Are we more free from work now? Or is it that we’re always working instead?

We are increasingly becoming employees of the web. We work for ourselves, for our friends, for our contacts, for our activities. We collaborate with Google, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, WordPress, etc. Gradually, we are becoming web-collar workers. We haven’t even signed a contract: a handshake was enough.

But at the same time we don’t really want a contract or anything: we don’t need new responsibilities or new rules. People and artists are happy to personally live a common world of relationships. Without boundaries or ground, at last, we are far enough to manage our degrees of separation. Are we internet junkies or advanced users? Are we addicted or agents? Maybe we are both: this is the age of ambiguity, of duplicity before everything becomes regular on the net. To be and not to be at the same time. Being there in any case.

 
How has the search for the Unconnected gone?

We launched a simple campaign via email and Facebook two months before the preview days of the Biennale. We were interested in testing how the connected people would have answered our call: collecting precise data on a phenomenon was not our point. Our goal was to create a mythology around the Unconnected: actually, we would be really happy if everybody could open a little space in their mind to think about the Unconnected!

So, instead of asking for money through a crowdfunding campaign, we decided to ask on Facebook for first and last names of people who are not using emails or social networks. About one hundred nominatives were collected so far, but our search is still on. Sometimes being unconnected could be a sign of poverty, sometimes of the greatest luxury. There is a paradox though: despite what one might think, 65.7% of the world population is unconnected. We are a minority!

Screenshot: the website of Internet Pavilion by Miltos Manetas. www.padiglioneinternet.com

Screenshot: the website of Internet Pavilion by Miltos Manetas. www.padiglioneinternet.com

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