The pandemic stripped us of so many experiences we cherished, including visits to art shows and galleries. We were fortunate here at ARCANISA to have had regular pre-pandemic access to art events and our love of the exposure to artistic newness, expression, and brilliance cannot be overemphasized. When the pandemic hit and galleries closed their doors we were sincerely worried about how the art world would navigate the new standardized virtual dynamic. Each gallery and museum has taken a unique approach, some offering 3D ‘tourable’ digital exhibition spaces, others stream conversations with artists who narrate their works and offer an alternate context to in-person viewing. But, in our opinion, TSA_PDF steals the show and certainly takes the cake.
Tiger Strikes Asteroid, “a non-profit network of independently programmed, artist-run exhibition spaces with locations in Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Greenville, SC” (1) decided to bring art directly into people’s homes. On a roughly bi-monthly schedule, Tiger Strikes Asteroid calls on their remarkably talented network of artists to contribute pieces, which Tiger Strikes Asteroid then compiles, curates, and launches as digital exhibitions, inviting viewers to download, print, and install the artworks at home. Ranging from stitched silk, acrylic, and felt mixed-medium pieces to celestial photo-based performances that capture cloud collages, the works are magnificently diverse and always unexpected.
“We view these exhibitions as a fun, experimental way to bring something physical and meaningful into people’s homes as they socially distance.” (2)
Let us try to articulate what we feel makes TSA_PDF so uniquely successful. There is a consistent air of elitism that pervasively invades art spaces. While we don't inherently dislike this identity, it can be immensely off-putting to those uninitiated to it. Not surprisingly, as the institutionalized art world transitioned to a virtual presentation, the result sometimes teetered on a maladaptive attempt at personable relatability— something that highly exclusive galleries are not known for. From within the comfort of our homes, the exclusivity and elitism felt out of place, if not inappropriate. TSA_PDF took a much more authentic, and, in our opinion, a hugely successful, approach.
Rather than present us with virtual reality gallery spaces that attempted to capture the in-person experience, Tiger Strikes Asteroid artfully recognized the unique opportunity for viewer participation and a casual, engaged, and more intimate interaction with the art world. Anyone interested can simply go online and download a complete curated collection of art pieces, intentionally designed to be printed using at home printers. Following a pay-what-you-wish pricing model, Tiger Strikes Asteroid all but guarantees there are no barriers to entry. Additionally, participants are encouraged to photograph and share their at home installations of their personal printed collections. From mantles and window panes, to outdoor fences and cubicle walls, the diversity of spaces people choose to showcase their newly acquired art is a testament to the comfortability, the pride, and the excitement participants feel toward the project. There are no rules restricting how one should hang the pieces, what lighting conditions are ideal, what arrangement the images should follow. There is complete freedom. At home, during a time as difficult as the pandemic, a freedom of expression, accompanied by beautiful ever-changing artworks is a magnificent luxury.
There is a playful, gleeful excitement when new TSA_PDFs drop; one never knows what works will be revealed but everything is fully available to you. There is no scrambling to snag a piece as soon as it drops for fear it will sell out, no disappointingly prohibitive price point, no disingenuous digital staging or impersonal gallery walkthrough. It’s you and the art, however you see fit. We can’t imagine a more astute interpretation of the current moment or a more perfect artistic offering. We highly encourage you to explore the project for yourself, and be sure to peek on Instagram at the at-home installations!
*note: we love in person galleries! We are in no way hating on the institutionalized art world, we are active participants in it; we are simply highlighting that, during this pandemic period, Tiger Strikes Asteroid has met the moment a bit better than other art spaces in a way that is relatable to art world novices and aficionados alike.