New York–based digital art nonprofit Rhizome announced today that it has hired Aria Dean as its new assistant curator of net art. Dean will start in her new post October 1.
The new position, which is funded by a grant from the Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation, was announced earlier this year with the aim of presenting many of the historical works in Rhizome’s archive, the ArtBase, to a broader, contemporary audience, as well as helping to organize events and online exhibitions.
“In her writing for Real Life Magazine and The New Inquiry, Aria has captured the complicated discussions about images online, particularly related to blackness and selfie practices,” Rhizome’s artistic director, Michael Connor, told ARTnews by phone. In her position, Dean, whose work has also appeared in Artforum and who has formidable Twitter presence, will also contribute frequently to Rhizome’s online editorial branch.
In the first months of her job, Dean will focus on a not-yet-announced project. (Rhizome is often mum about the various projects it has in the works.) “Aria has a preternatural grasp of Rhizome’s stake in net art history,” Connor said. “She’s excited about how we can bring the preservation works to contemporary discussions and connect what artists are thinking about and caring about right now with the archival practices we’re doing.”
The organization, which turned 20 this year, has recently been ramping up its preservation and curatorial teams. After receiving a $600,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation in January, it was able to further develop it online web archiving tool, Webrecorder, bring its lead developer on board full-time, and hire an additional developer.
Today’s announcement also noted that Rhizome is in the process of hiring a software curator to look at “concrete practical considerations” concerning its preservation practices. As Connor put it, “In order to maintain legacy artworks, you need to maintain legacy software.” Rhizome has also hired a soon-to-be-announced net art Ph.D. student, in partnership with the London South Bank University, for a three-year period to help study the depth of the ArtBase, which numbers over 2,000 works.