On the 14th of April, Agora will explore digital artist Carla Gannis’s most recent project, which reimagines the archival space in the context of modern values. Drawing from feminist, de-colonizing and post-human narratives, Gannis transforms the 16-century historic ‘“Cabinet of Curiosities,” or Wunderkammer, into a digital space that speaks to the present day. 

Isabella Helms  |  Ed Cristina Brooks  | 4 April 2021

Carla Gannis - Cabinet - Agora Digital Art
Carla Gannis, Cabinet (2020) © Courtesy of the artist

Like the beginning of any journey, ours starts in a familiar setting. We are at the doors of San Francisco’s Telematic Gallery, excited to experience Carla Gannis’ new wwwunderkammer exhibition. Stepping into the physical gallery space, we find a shelf stuffed with objects that relate to the concept of the Wunderkammer. R2D2 sits amongst bronzed barbie dolls, a monkey statuette climbs a DNA structure. Gannis’ interest in the contemporary online culture is prevalent within the displayed objects. It’s fantastic and imaginative.

However, this is the only physical item in a VR-based exhibition that further challenges the way we perceive the Wunderkammer in light of modern-day values, collecting and technology. When we meet the VR headset, we are invited to immerse ourselves into Gannis’s world via the 3-D Game Cabinet Portal. As we enter Gannis’s virtual wwwunderkammer, we are confronted with an art historical narrative that questions the future of physical creative spaces.

Carla Gannis, Lady Ava Interface at Sunrise (2018) © Courtesy of the artist.

We encounter Gannis’ haunting rendition of the first-computer programmer Ava Lovelace, originally created for the 2018 Whitney Gallery Sunset/Sunrise Commission. The avatar of Lovelace introduces us to ways of thinking about historical bodies within a 21st century narrative. Through Lovelace’s representation as a digitally assembled body of clouds, unicorns and cookies, Gannis reimagines the way we interact with the past through technology, engaging with a historical figure in a way that seems more tangible than through a portrait or textbook. It is exciting to see this conversation being extended in the wwwunderkammer project.

13CGannis_MainHallPoliticsHistory - Agora Digital Art
Carla Gannis, Main Hall Politics History (2020) © Courtesy of the artist.

wwwunderkammer makes the viewer reevaluate the way they think about collections in the present day compared to the past. After rich men of the 16th century travelled around the world to collect treasures, they would present their Wunderkammers at every dinner party for the rest of their lives, showcasing their affluence, ability to travel and the spoils of colonisation. Gannis’ wwwunderkammer creates a Cabinet of Curiosities that speaks to a wider demographic. The inclusivity of Wwwunderkammer and the accessibility of the technology dismantles the connotations of class surrounding the Wunderkammer, thanks to a collection everyone can relate to. 

Inside the wwwunderkammer, we are reminded of key concepts and movements that are ever pressing in the present day. Signs to decolonise art collections and references to the Black Lives Matter movement presents the virtual Wunderkammer as a space to display the narrative of our present times, creating a space that fights for equality.

It is a pleasure to delve into Carla Gannis’ wwwunderkammer and experience this modern-day take on the concept. Agora are delighted to be in conversation with Carla Gannis on the 14th of April, where we will be discussing the process behind what has inspired this latest project.

Check some videos on Vimeo

Carla Gannis interviews in wwwunderkammer: Leah Roh | Babeland 2.0 on vimeo @ Carla Gannis. Courtesy of the artist.

Carla Gannis, Virtues and Vices (2021) on vimeo @ Carla Gannis. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Exhibition: group show: Recollecting Futures

  • Date: 27.03.2021 – 27.06.2021

  • Location: on Hubs Mozilla

  • Media: VR – Digital Art

  • Curator: Miriam Arbus (synthesis gallery) and Julia Schmelzer (PYLON)

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21.04.14 Agora Talk20: Carla Gannis for Agora Digital Art

14 April at 18:30 BST  |  13:30 NYC | 10:30 LA | 19:30 CET

on Zoom. The talk will be recorded and Live Streamed.

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