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Take a virtual guided gallery tour

Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash

This week’s post is a meandering journey through virtual exhibitions, galleries and events available to explore online while we all continue to be in lockdown. Plus there are some other suggestions for podcasts, articles and new music to entertain.

In a nod to Slow TV, how about this single-take, five-hour cinematic exploration of Russia’s Hermitage Museum. It’s actually made by Apple as an ad for the iPhone, but it’s nevertheless a way to take an armchair tour of the museum’s collection of almost 600 paintings. The collection includes artworks by masters like Rembrandt, Raphael, Caravaggio and Rubens across 43 galleries. But, sorry to say, this idea isn’t unique to Apple.

Film buffs may have seen Russian Ark, a 2002 film directed by Aleksandr Sokurov that is a travelling, single-take 90-minute film covering some 2 kilometres through the Hermitage. The story is about a French aristocrat who encounters people from history as he travels through the museum. And, fun fact, it was the first film The Broad and Mr Broad saw together on an outing with friends, marking a memorable cinema experience that translated into a life-changing event too. And maybe slot this one away for when the world opens up again and we can travel once more. It’s a Culture Trip rundown on 10 contemporary galleries to visit in Moscow.

In the UK, the BBC now has a Culture in Quarantine site with links to all sorts of arts and culture to enjoy from home. Hear from Mary Beard about making sense of a crisis like this through art, take in an opera, find some inspiration for your own creative endeavours at home and discover links to galleries like the Tate Modern’s online Warhol exhibition. There are also art history lectures like this one by Dr. Jacqueline Cockburn for The Art Society, on Velazquez’s painting, Las Meninas. Further fun fact, The Broad wrote one of her university Honours essays on Representation using Michel Foucault’s book The Order of Things, where he discusses Las Meninas in detail. Why is this painting notable? According to Foucault, it establishes a relationship between the viewer and the painter, who is depicted is the painting, and heralds a shift in the object-subject relationship and our very understanding of Representation.

Back to galleries and the Dutch national museum and gallery, Rijksmuseum, dedicated to art and history, has a virtual tour where you can inspect artworks from the Middle Ages to the present day, including of course its collection of Dutch Masters and plenty more. The Van Gogh Museum might be closed, but it’s also offering plenty to enjoy from home too.

Admittedly, nothing will replace the experience of standing in front of an artwork, with the feeling and emotion that comes with that – seeing the brushstrokes and being in its tangible presence. Nevertheless a virtual gallery visit is probably the next best thing.

The UK’s National Gallery has virtual tours for armchair artlovers, while London’s Southbank Centre says the show must go on, despite the lockdown and shelter in place orders. To help people continue to access the arts, it’s hosting podcasts, online performances and a playlist of new music.

Art, Interrupted is an Art Gallery of New South Wales blog where curators like Amanda Peacock, who is the senior programs producer, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, installation technician Julia Bavyka and Australian art curator Anne Ryan share the exhibitions they’ve missed as well, as those they’ve discovered virtually while galleries have been shuttered.

Home school help or just some learning away from TV and games comes from Netflix that has put a bunch of documentaries on its US YouTube channel for anyone to watch. There are nature and design documentaries.

One World, Together at Home is the giant streaming concert backed by Lada Gaga to raise money for WHO, which is going to need it now the US is cutting funding, and backed by activist group Global Citizen. You can also find Australia and New Zealand streaming options.

The Covid-19 Diaries is a project to document stories of lockdown from around the world by award-winning UK filmmaker Phoebe Holman. And the most exciting part is that we’re all invited to participate. Just record your story and submit it to be part of the documentary that aims to inspire connectivity in a disconnected time.

Love Fleabag and wish there was more? Well, you’re in luck because the Soho Theatre in London has Fleabag Live and it’s just four quid which goes to the NHS. Have just re-watched the two seasons of Fleabag, I’m feeling the loss and can really identify with this farewell to the series.

In Australia, the 2020 Stella Prize was just awarded to Jess Hill’s book See What You Made Me Do, a searing insight into domestic abuse combining forensic research and storytelling. There’s a transcript of Hill’s acceptance speech where the investigative journalist shares her journey in writing the book and hopes it helps bring much needed attention to this issue.

How did Mary Shelley bring the experience of living through a plague to fiction? Her novel The Last Man tells the story of a sole survivor of a pandemic that wiped out the human species. The literary site Brain Pickings has this fascinating look at Shelley’s book, which is said to be deeply autobiographical and draws on the Frankenstein author’s experience of losing two children to infection diseases and her husband in a boating accident.

Former Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam has penned this short piece Bastard Pandemic vs Bastards on governments rediscovering the importance of public safety nets and the public good in facing the coronavirus. It only took a global pandemic to force their neoliberal and conservatives to turn away from toxic capitalism.

Thinking about the future is something most of us are doing while we’re hanging at home and wondering what a post-Covid world might look like. Clearly there are many challenges. Hear from Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Agreement on climate change, about how we must survive the impending climate disaster in this podcast for the UNSW Centre for Ideas on protecting the planet for a viable future. Equally, tech will define the shape of our lives in the future and Jamie Susskind discusses digital democracy in another podcast from the centre.

Fiona Apple has a new album out, Fetch The Bolt Cutters, and it’s getting rave reviews. Pitchfork describes it as an unbound, wild symphony and no music has ever sounded quite like it. Prime time no longer exists. Are you a Radiohead fan like The Broad? Good news. Guitarist Ed O’Brien has released his first solo album and it sounds amazing. And he spoke to Double J radio’s Zan Rowe about why he finally felt compelled to make asolo album.

In the era of extreme streaming when we’re all house-bound, certainties are falling away and that includes in TV. So says this piece by Lucas Shaw for Bloomberg’s Screentime. Viewing habits are all over the place, live sports have gone and we’re all on social media.

Brigid Delaney curated her very own virtual festival of music, shows, pub trivia and exhibitions. Her verdict? Exhausting, but not the same.

Finally, last month’s round-up of TV included the new season of Killing Eve and whether you’re a fan or new to the series, you might enjoy this Q&A with Sandra Oh in the SMH.

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Rosalyn Page
Journalist, blogger and writer covering arts, culture, travel and digital lifestyle at www.rosalynpage.com and www.somenotesfromabroad.com.

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