Date: Wed, 14 May 1997
From: Josephine Bosma

interview with Alexei Shulgin

Josephine Bosma

[...]

JB: Lets just move on to net.art then. So on the one hand you have this simple technology that people can make beautiful artpieces with. On the other hand there is this sofisticated artworld that is in need, that is hungry for new talent, and which of course is also hungry to show that it knows what is new and what is the freshest. And it wants to get some net.artists into their galleries. What do you think will happen?

AS: You never know what is going to happen. But I think this year will be sort of crucial for what is called net.art, because now we see allready a lot of attention coming from traditional art institutions to net.artists. This year we will see a lot of exhibitions and projects realised in the traditional gallery and museum spaces. On the other hand what we have with the net and what we never had before, is that you can not only produce your work, but also distribute it without the third side, without somebody between you and the audience, because the net itself is a global network. I think we will have two trends in the development of net.art. One is that some big stars of net.art will be emerging, having expensive exhibitions in galleries, selling their works.

On the other hand we will have a lot of, I would say, underground net.activity, which is at the same time not underground anymore because it can be distributed worldwide. I have no clear idea what we will come to in the end, but I think it will go in these directions.

JB: So something from the underground that in the old situation would most possibly disappear into oblivion after a while now will have global reach.

What effects could that have?

AS: First thing I see, is that its now really interesting and makes sense to make some kind of independent and underground activity, because you in the end publish it on the net. Through the net I see a lot of cases of people finding somebody with similar views, similar ideas and creating international societies, international social groups according to their interests. It not just happens in the art scene, its with everything. The problem of inclusion or exclusion is not so important today, also because of the general decline of the traditional art market system. Of course artists want money, but besides money they want to bring the result of their work to people and now this is possible.

I can say that when I started to do net.works, for me it was kind of an escape or way out of the traditional artsystem I was involved in for some years. I had really very bad experiences in it, not only as an artist but also as a representative of a national or international minority because I am living in Moscow and things are different there. Whatever I did as an artist was always contextualised as something specific russian, coming from Russia. The artsystem is very strong and everything is very much fixed in it, so there are special niches for some minorities. I would have to move to the west and start some career again or I donít know what I would have had to do. To always be treated as a russian artist was not interesting at all.

The net appeared to be a temporary good solution. In what I am doing on the net nobody cares if the signal comes from Moscow or from whereever. I can put my files on an Amsterdam server or in NewYork, it doesnít matter.

[...]