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The Wrong gets online exhibitions right

The Wrong is an online biennial that anyone can submit to. Pictured is an artwork from the pavilion Too Beautiful To Be Real presented by Off Site Project. Featured is an artwork by Shamus Clisset (aka Fake Shamus) titled Mr. Realistic (Keeping America Clean, 2014. (Courtesy the artist)

Art exhibitions tend toward the physical, a fact made no more obvious than by the ever-growing count of international biennials; every year, artists, architects, curators, designers, and all manner of hangers-on set off to Venice or Lisbon or São Paolo or Seoul. Jet fuel is burned, lukewarm Prosecco is drunk. In an era that traffics in data, what might be the digital answer to the brick-and-mortar biennial?

The Wrong is perhaps one of the right responses to this question. Founded in 2013 by David Quiles Guilló, the online biennial has showcased thousands of artists as part of its radically open exhibition format. Any artist or curator might submit an exhibition, and The Wrong will continue adding them to its directory until the very last day of the biennial. 

Living in an off-the-grid home in Alicante, Spain, Quiles Guilló may seem like an unlikely candidate for running a global biennial of net art, but perhaps this is what best embodies The Wrong: de-centered and democratic by definition, one need not be near any global art center—or have the means to reach it—to participate fully in the exhibition. “The Wrong wants to make it easy for curators and artists to exhibit their work, and for the public to enjoy it,” Quiles Guilló said. “Everything I work toward is to achieve this premise.”

Photo of a hand in a spiky latex glove

The Wrong is open for submissions throughout its run. Here, an artwork by Mit Borras. (Courtesy The Wrong)

He is quick to stress however that The Wrong is not designed in opposition to the IRL biennial. “I believe the wrong is a complement to all the already existing events and biennials, a different experience for curators, for the artists, and for the public.” That said, as infinite as an exhibition like the Venice Biennial might feel, The Wrong has them beat. “It’s so vast there is no way you can visit it all,” Quiles Guilló explained, “which mirrors the infiniteness of the digital space.”

Artist (and AN contributor) Alice Bucknell, who is exhibiting as part of the pavilion Too beautiful to be real, noted that in contrast to the Venice Biennale or art fairs, there is a “divergence,” perhaps a positive one, between The Wrong and its physical siblings. “There’s an inherent hierarchy informed by the spatiality in traditional biennials and fairs—it conditions your experience of them whether you notice or not,” she said, adding that most art biennials or fairs also have been run in more or less the same way since their inception. “With The Wrong there’s no hierarchy in terms of how you navigate. There are no central pavilions or national pavilions like Venice, there is no up-and-coming sector like Frieze or Basel. There are no costs.” That said, she pointed out that the exhibitors lean heavily toward Euro-America, though this appears to be improving. The Wrong has also attracted its fair share of showy names over the years amid myriad others, such as Marisa Olson and Elisa Giardina Papa.

The Wrong’s official landing page is all text, composing many, many links to its various “pavilions.” Bucknell described this design as a “romantic, quite nostalgic idea of the internet as a digital village where you can travel in any order.” In the age of the infinite scroll and the algorithmically organized news feed, where users spend time on just a handful of monopolizing websites, The Wrong brings pack a long-gone Geocities era of the internet with raw hyperlinks and seemingly infinite discovery. “Media today is consumed almost 100 percent based on algorithms, so you only consume something related to what you consumed yesterday, and it is quite hard to break the spell,” said Quiles Guilló. “The Wrong does not use any algorithms, nor compile data from its visitors, so it is a new opportunity to access art and ideas that are not on your regular online diet.” 

The Wrong opens its fourth edition to the public on November 1. To attend the opening party, click “Going” on the Facebook event and start commenting.

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