Exhibition preview and Callout: Screenshot with Curator Yvonne Le

Elizabeth Lewis

Virtual exhibition Screenshot, curated by Yvonne Le and hosted by Gallery Lane Cove, features the cutest art to emerge from a digital practice. Screenshot’s concept taps into the internet culture that many have been enveloped in since their practices and lifestyles have become more dependant on the internet than ever. Yvonne’s callout read;

“Themes include but are not limited to: cat videos, webtoons, animal crossing, meme culture, waifu tributes, Japanese kawaii aesthetic, anime, manga, your self-insert character, egg dog andthe shiba inu.”

Yvonne’s own artistic practice as Devon Mer is an interdisciplinary one, with a strong affinity with digital illustration, fantasy, and penguins. As a curator, Screenshot seems to be their perfect debut exhibition.

Q & A with Yvonne Le

When conceptualising Screenshot, what kinds of works were you most excited to see?

Definitely the animation and moving image works. When coming up with the exhibition concept, I wanted it to be a concept that could attract those working around or interested in animation.

Are there some advantages to curating an exhibition using augmented reality in terms of how you’re able to display work?

The first thing that comes to mind is how you can customise the virtual space around the artwork. Things like colours, fonts, even sound if the artwork needs it, becomes easier to play around with.

I found that I didn’t have to worry so much about how each artwork would look in relation to each other. Things like clashing colours aren’t a factor anymore.

How do you find the fine art scene has transformed due to increased internet usage over the course of the pandemic? Which changes do you think will be long lasting?

I’ve noticed the emphasis on the online presentation of art. It’s not enough just to slap a JPEG of a beautiful image on your website. I’ve been seeing art institutions try all sorts of things to keep that special ‘limited time only’ gallery feel; from creating an only copy of the gallery, hybrids of physical and digital spaces to exclusive online only content. I think the digitisation process will be interesting to see unfold since everyone’s attention span on the internet is so much shorter.

Since so many events, prizes and exhibitions have been moved to online, the cursed application fees are usually waived. This is really good news for student and emerging artists. I hope this is something that endures.

In your call-out, you mentioned cuteness as a platform for activism. Why do you think this aesthetic holds political/social power?

It's the appeal! There’s something about sailor moon or a cute dog saying ‘ACAB’ that’s just so darn magnetic. Signs, posters and infographics for rallies and protests are so wonderfully diverse, cheeky and powerful.

On the other hand, I had noticed how this ‘cute’ appeal influenced how activism resources were shared. Desmond Tutu’s famous quote “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” written in millennial pink with a trendy black accent gets more reach than its plainer counterpart. During the height of the BLM movement this year, many internet artists draw tribute portraits of the police brutality victims. Although it raised much needed awareness, it almost devolved into a drawing challenge. So however distasteful, it did its intended purpose. Unfortunately I am not informed enough to give any further insight but it’s something that creatives should be thinking about.

Do you have a message for emerging artists who might be thinking about engaging with internet culture in their practice?

I think social media will be your friend, but friend in moderation! For illustrators especially, it's easy to get caught up in the crazy fast pace of the internet.

Depending on what your focus is with your art, I think once you get your head around a homepage, storefront or an online portfolio it could be really rewarding. It’s a nice corner of the internet all about you and your best work.

For fine and contemporary artists, I’m sure there will be many opportunities for virtual or remote exhibitions. I think in this aspect, that less is more. Even though it's the internet your art will still be represented by, and representing a gallery or art organisation. So treat it just like you would an in-real-life exhibition.

Exhibition dates: 24 August - 13 September 2020

How to view: visit www.gallerylanecove.com.au/screenshot