Rhizome Names Its New Executive Director, Pratt Upload Names Its Keynote

by Paddy Johnson on October 1, 2015 Newswire

Zackary Kaplan left, Lorna Mills right.

Zachary Kaplan left, Lorna Mills right.

New York based New Media non-profit Rhizome.org announced this Tuesday that they have appointed Zachary Kaplan as their new executive director. Kaplan replaces Heather Corcoran, who left at the end of September after three years at the helm to live with her partner in the UK.

The choice may not come as a surprise to insiders. Kaplan joined Rhizome at the age of 28 in 2013 as their community manager. After a year in that position, he took on the role of Assistant Director so he could get to know the governance of the organization.

Kaplan is now 30, which at Rhizome is not an atypical age for an executive director. Former Rhizome Executive Director Lauren Cornell took on the role in 2005 when she was just 27 and went on to lead the organization for seven years.

I reached out to Kaplan yesterday to see what plans he had for the future, past continuing the organizations trademark conference Seven on Seven. “I think the two things I’ve been really excited about represent major opportunities,” he told me. “The first is the Michael [Connor]’s “Brushes” show.” The massive online exhibition is part of First Look, a series launched in conjunction with the new museum, examines online art works that refer back to the bodily gesture. The show includes a website, a symposium and a rotating series of GIFs that take over the front page of Rhizome. (Jacob Ciocci is the current splash page) “I think this show represents the best that we can do in terms of online exhibition.” Kaplan told me proudly.

Kaplan also express excitement about their digital conservation program and rightly so. It is needed. “Dragan [Espenschied] has been with us for a year, and is doing research that’s not just going to influence the field, but create new cultures around digital conservation,” Kaplan told me boldly. Specifically, Espenschied has been working in partnership with developer Ilya Kreymer on webrecorder, a web tool designed to help museums record important events and social media on the web. This August, the National Football Museum wrote about working with the organization to preserve Vines they felt were important.

In other new media news, Pratt Digital Arts has named Lorna Mills as the keynote speaker for its digital media conference, Pratt Upload. (The conference will take place February 6th, 2016 and AFC has been its media sponsor for the last two years). Mills is a Canadian artist who has been exhibiting internationally since the 1990s. Her practice has included pretty much any medium you’ve ever heard of: lifocrhome printing, painting, super 8 film & video, etc. But these days she’s most known for her animated GIF installations and curatorial work. Last year, both her installation “Ungentrified” and her four part video “Ways of Something” made my top 10 digital art works of the year. For “Ungentrified”, Mills filled OCAD’s atrium space with an array of zanny gifs. Among them were a guy fucking a dog, a woman humping an inflatable pool toy, and a man running with a chicken over his penis.  Meanwhile, “Ways of Something” remakes John Berger’s BBC documentary Ways of Seeing by preserving the audio and inviting artists to illustrate one minute each of the movie. The project has been widely acclaimed.  

I asked Carla Gannis, assistant chairperson of The Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute what Mills had promised for her keynote. Apparently, Mills had told her she would be “crushing our dreams in the first 5 minutes of her keynote and then, for the rest of her allotted time, reciting poetry from when she was 13 years old.” Mills is nothing if not irreverent. Her lecture should not be missed.

Mills will open her second solo show, At Play in the Field of the Lords” at Transfer Gallery this Friday.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: