Joanna Render: Re_Thinking Net.Art

Blog, Exhibitions, News January 31, 2009

Joanna Render: Re_Thinking Net.Art

Sat 31.01.2009 14.00 hrs, Cafe Global
Gallery owner Joanna Render talks about placing online artworks in the art market and presents her Online Art exhibition ‘Rethinking About’. 

Sat 31.01.


Featured Online Artworks:

Florent di Bartolo – Red Mountains,
Johannes Blank
– EVE,
Heath Bunting
– Skint-The Internet Beggar,
Jose Carlos Casado
– Equality,; Being,;
Nick Crowe
– Love´s Revenge,
Carol Flax
– Two Mothers,; It’s Black! It’s White!,
Harald Holba
– Sew (series),,,,,,
Esther Hunziker
– ooo (series),,,,,,,,,,
– It’s Black! It’s White!,
Liane Lang
– Matter,, Minder,, Moaner, (trilogy)
Ciro Museres
– Yes We Are,
Andreas Siefert
– Black AG,
Rick Silva
– Techno Songs About The Sun,
– Flipped Clock,
CJ Yeh
– The Tale (triptych): Pandora´s Tears,, Prometheus Chain,, Mortal´s Dilemma,


Throughout the 20th century our society has experienced a major shift. It´s economies have evolved from a market of tangible commodities, where pimarily precious physical goods were considered desirable, to a factor market, in which the purchase of knowledge, contacts and emotional values count more than property for individual use. Sharing, knowledge and the building up of networks have became an everyday necessity to move forward in terms of career and personal growth.

Although this development has also happened naturally in the art market, art dealers still celebrate the idea, that a work of art should be a physical, touchable fetish. Usually galleries do not deal with works of art, which exist only in a virtual way.

For many years I’ve tried to figure out, how to treat virtual works of art equally to paintings, sculptures or other physical artworks. I’ve sought the advise of many experts, travelled to meet artists and collectors, visited museums and other art institutions, and gained a lot of experience by being a gallerist. In 2005 my gallery, for the first time, presented online artworks in an art fair. The response of the audience was surprisingly high.

The results of my researches brought insightful results: from a legal perspective, as well as in relation to the creation of value, there is hardly any difference between physical and virtual works. Therefore no reason to distrust a purchase of virtual art.

This factor was already shown in the field of video- and sound art. Here artists on the one hand still try to make objects by signing tapes or making artistically designed DVDs, but the virtual content of these objects is supported by contracts and licenses.

This procedure was accepted in the art market. One now could apply it to any kinds virtual art works, including websites. In fact galleries already do that. They sell codes of websites in small editions as CD-copies. But trading Internet Artworks is an historic innovation, that cannot be treated equally to offline works.

From my point of view the major difference between online and offline art is the fact, that Online art is at the same time public art. The ownership of public art is insofar limited, that a buyer has on the one hand the right to own the work. On the other hand the usage of the work would not be exclusive, but rather shared with a huge audience for a greater good than individual pleasure.

By buying websites a purchaser donates works of art to the world.

The potential benefits in terms of the positive image which accrues to the buyer is, in both a financial and emotional sense, more valuable that exclusive ownership of the object

At first sight trading Online Artworks therefore seems to be logic and historically consequent. Nevertheless one needs a lot of conceptual ideas and specific starting conditions, to make a theory like that become real, and to convince institutions as well as private collectors to trust in an investment like that.

These starting conditions I have as a result of my research defined, and in cooperations with pioneers of Net art, tested. Partnerships were contracted, and networks were built. A huge number of online artworks, which are influencial in historical terms and which can be used for being offered in the art market, were prepared for being exhibited and sold.

In 2006 I started to develop a concept for a permanent Online Art exhibition. It has got the title „Rethinking About“, and consists of 180 slots for Online Artworks and related documentation material.

All works, which are made in that context, remain individual, and are internationally promoted as well as offered in the art market. It´s an experimental playground for extraordinary artists worldwide, an invitation to learn how to join the art market. The results so far were very convincing.

The first series of works, which was finished in 2007, was made by Harald Holba. The title is „sew“. Six equal websites interpret one and the same code in different colours. Next to the work of art Harald Holba prepared several additional materials, like an installation instruction for exhibitions and texts about the work.

The question, how to cooperate with art institutions, if it comes to online artworks, and how to exhibit Websites is also an important topic of that Online Art exhibition. Many answers are provided.

In the context of the „Open Space“ presentation I will talk about my experiences with Online Art and the art market. I will explain the conceptual approach of that exhibition, and deepen my thoughts about the purchase of Online Artworks .

Joanna Render, 2009

Related Websites:

Joanna Render Gallery / Rethinking About