Creating a fair and equitable space after COVID shuttered artists from residencies, travel, studio visits, exhibitions, and physical networking, UN/MUTE is an online residency that provides artists an opportunity for a critical exchange and collaboration while simultaneously connecting resources from the global cultural epicenter of New York City. This project is co-organized by Undercurrent and the European Union National Institutes for Culture’s New York Cluster. It goes live on unmute.nyc on February 12, 2021, in concurrence with the Lunar New Year, and will continue through May 9th, celebrating Europe Day.
The online world that has emerged in response to the pandemic reshapes our definition of social contact, obscures our private and public environments, and circumscribes the evolution of communication. UN/MUTE-10002 follows the narratives of ten European artists who have never visited New York City and ten NYC-based artists, paired into teams of two, one European with one New Yorker. Additionally, one artist is a digital immigrant, born before 1986, and the other is a digital native, born into the world of web browsers and email, after 1986. Over a series of Zoom sessions, each team’s collective creative process will unfold in a series of video recordings.
Language serves as the first cultural indicator of change. At constant risk of complete extermination, the Amazon is now more recognized as an online shopping platform than one of our planet’s richest natural resources. We stream video content into our living rooms while drinking bottled water branded with pictures of mountain springs, and our most priceless memories are hidden away in a cloud. We sit a virtual world apart from each other – far more than the recom- mended six feet – obscuring the socioeconomic divisions of race, color, national origin, gender identification, sexual orientation, religion, and age. The present state of being often sounds more like mythology or folklore than reality.
As the internet conditions our lifestyle, we aim to find new normalcy amidst a shortage of vaccines, new virus strains, unsettling unemployment rates, and a Western world trying to mitigate racism and xenophobia during a delicate socio- political epoch. Regardless of our facility with digital technologies, how do we progress without compromising the past? How can we learn from each other’s individual histories and experiences? Embodying inclusion, multilingualism, and digitalization, UN/MUTE provides an opportunity for two transatlantic strangers to collaborate on a singular project for a sustainable future.
Participating artists include: Eren Aksu (Germany), Aaron Bezzina (Malta), Will Calhoun (NYC), Sanne De Wilde (Flanders, Belgium), FOQL (Poland), Gabrielė Gervickaitė (Lithuania), Kris Grey (NYC), Sophie Guisset (Wallonia-Brussels, Belgium), Kyle Hittmeier (NYC), Mo Kong (NYC), Yi Hsuan Lai (NYC), H. Lan Thao Lam (NYC), Marie Lukáčová (Czech Republic), Olesja Katšanovskaja–Münd (Estonia), Sheila Maldonado (NYC), Barbara Maria Neu (Austria), Emmanuel Massillon (NYC), Alex Mirutziu (Romania), Emily Shanahan (NYC), and Sydney Shavers (NYC).