While museums have been rapidly expanding their digital programming in recent years, the New Museum in New York has been at it longer than most, thanks to its 2002 acquisition of the art-and-technology nonprofit Rhizome. Now that closely watched organization has tapped one of its staffers for a new leadership position.
Rhizome has named Aria Dean as its new editor and curator. Dean, who also works independently as an artist, was previously the organization’s assistant curator of net art and digital culture.
“I grew up on reading Rhizome in college and really came to contemporary art and net art through it, so it has a special place in my heart as a publishing platform,” Dean told ARTnews.
Among Dean’s biggest projects to date for Rhizome, which oversees a blog as well as exhibitions, public programming, and the commissioning of new works, has been the Net Art Anthology, an essential resource that offers restored versions of pioneering digital works and historical texts related to them that she oversaw with Michael Connor, Rhizome’s artistic director. The anthology surveyed nearly three decades of art, and its offerings were later turned into a book and a New Museum show.
Such research-based work will continue to be a focus for Dean at Rhizome. She said that, over the coming year, the group will focus on several themes—radicalization online, the use of digital currencies, and the role of technology within indigenous cultures.
Dean’s promotion comes amid major changes in the art-tech field, with the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow launching an ambitious new website for art that exists online, and the Serpentine Galleries in London investing in augmented and virtual reality works.
“The niche that Rhizome has existed in gives us a very particular sort of expertise,” Dean said. “Our lens is useful as a way to think about all these things museums are already looking at, but we can dig deeper into certain sides of it.”