Artist Moon Ji-young, a graduate in the Department of Political Science & International Relations mentioned the difficulties artists face during the pandemic in the interview with Busan Daily. She specified in the interview with Ewha Voice that not only have the exhibition periods shortened in half, but art museums and galleries also closed down whenever stricter social distancing regulations were announced.
Due to the regulations that prohibit the gathering of people, museums, galleries and art fairs were forced to facilitate a digital transformation.
KIAF, which stands for Korean International Art Fair, was one of the organizations which kick-started the transformation this year. They opened an online viewing room starting from Sept. 23.
Kim Dong-hyun, the senior manager of KIAF, shared that the online transformation was not an abrupt decision. He mentioned the organization has long been paying attention to online art platforms such as ARTSY to connect galleries and artists with potential clients on the web.
Currently, on the KIAF’s official website, 139 galleries from 11 countries have posted art content and artworks that are on sale.
To the question of whether the change will remain even after the pandemic subsides, Kim firmly stated it would.
“A number of institutes and organizations are investing a fortune on constructing virtual media to exhibit their artworks,” Kim said. “It is the perfect timing to test out online platforms and develop them further to settle it as one of the main means of the art market.”
Kim explained the problems the fair is facing while hosting its first online viewing room, which is a newly coined term for its online exhibition.
“Other than detailed aspects such as improving the search bar, we are concerned that the link between anonymous but promising artists and the audience is weakening,” Kim said.
“In physical fairs, artists and clients are brought together by the fair’s curation and it is more likely that clients find new fascinations by chance,” Kim elaborated. “However, since online environments are equipped with a search bar, such lucky findings diminish.”
Nonetheless, Moon shared her perspective on the effects of the pandemic on individual artists and the digital transformation of the art market.
“I’ve seen a few of my fellow artists who have begun to showcase their artworks on online platforms such as YouTube,” Moon said. “A number of them share their artistic journey and life as an artist, expanding the breadth of art in general.”
Moon added that the lockdown situation had pushed her to put into action her long thought idea of creating an artist webpage for herself.
However, Moon shared that the process is much strenuous. As she does visual arts, posting her works online over an acceptable quality usually requires the assistance of a photographer which requires extra cost.
“Recently, I’ve seen some exhibition hosts who attempt to create a 3D art viewing platform,” Moon said. “However, due to lack of budget, it is often stopped midway.”
On the potential idea of continuous online art-gallery, Kim and Moon were both optimistic. Kim mentioned Naver ’s Art Window, a Korean website where artists can freely upload artworks and supplementary art products for sale.
Moon commented it would work as a way to lower the bounds of art to the general public.
Nevertheless, Moon said the severe effect of COVID-19 on artists has a link to fundamental problems of the art environment support of municipalities.
“All projects either demanded tangible results short-term or were entirely dependent on the creativity and ideas of the artists,” Moon said. “I hope the current situation becomes the chance to really listen to the artists and devise relevant policies based on their voices.”