Email Art

By Jes Fernie, 5 November 2002


Very, very rarely does an exhibition that invites contributions from members of the public become a success, and Email Art, organised by The Centre of Attention, is no exception. But like much that the Centre does, the curious left-field ambition of this exhibition makes the thing work. Every Monday for six weeks the curator Pierre-Alexandre Coindre sends subscribers an email from any one of the following artists: Jenny Holzer, Ken Friedman, Sylvie Fleury, Simon Poulter and Simon Faithful. Subscribers are invited to submit work in response to these emails. At the end of the fifth week, Coindre selects his preferred email and sends it out as the final element of the Email Art show.

Apart from presenting subscribers with a new way of approaching their email inboxes (which are increasingly becoming the junk yard of all mankind), this exhibition is billed as an opportunity to consider the internet as a medium for communicating art and the links between Mail Art and Email Art. All five works seen together make an eclectic, slightly mindnumbing collection, with no apparent coherent theme. But seen on their own, on a weekly basis, the works are oddly engaging. You can take from them what you will: you can delete them, reply with a work of your own, print them out or own them. But with responses like ‘Become a virgin again’ and ‘Can you help? LOST! Ideas lost in London August 2002’, I fear there is not much hope of that sixth ‘artist’ creating a loud and impressive bang to denote the end of the show.

Email Art // The Centre of Attention, London // 12 August – 16 September 2002 //

Jes Fernie <jesfernie AT> runs RSA Art for Architecture and is a freelance writer