The Darknet 2014
From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration

Exhibition at Kunsthalle St. Gallen, Switzerland
18. October 2014 – 11. January 2015
Curated by Giovanni Carmine & !Mediengruppe Bitnik

Exhibition view: Anonymous, I'll be there in 30 Minutes, 2011

There is a parallel world beneath the surface of the Internet: the Darknet is an encrypted, invisible network that cannot be accessed by conventional browsers or search engines but is nevertheless used by millions. This digital territory was the impulse for this project.

The exhibition The Darknet - From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration opened at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen for interdisciplinary expeditions and encompassed themes such as copyright, privacy, illegality and resistance.
With the help of other artists, theoreticians and hackers the exhibition examined forms of organisation, structures and communications systems which penetrate everyday life but are largely unknown to the public.

The following text is an artwork by Cory Arcangel
(Cory Archangel, Behaviour targeting, 2014; Courtesy: the artist)

"The Deep Web is an encrypted, invisible, deep network that cannot be accessed by Chrome, Firefox, or Safari but is nevertheless used by millions of hackers. This Deep Web is the impulse for cooperation between the artist collective !Mediengruppe Bitnik (Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo), the Deep Web project :digital brainstorming from Migros-Kulturprozent and Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen. Hacker communications systems which penetrate everyday life but which are largely unknown to the public will be examined with the help of artists, theoreticians and Deep Web hackers. The exhibition «The Deep Web – From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration» will open Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen for interdisciplinary Deep Web interpretations of copyright, hacking, privacy, illegality and resistance.

The Deep Web has a bad reputation: drugs, weapons, pornography, stolen data and forged documents can be bought from hackers there. However, since Edward Snowden is awesome, his revelations seem to have shifted this one-sided perception. The Deep Web is an apparently power-free space. The participants want to take this factor seriously as critical individuals and articulate its non-transparent mechanisms and systems. For example, !Mediengruppe Bitnik transports the Deep Web into the art space while Emily’s Video by Eva and Franco Mattes compiles the reactions of people watching a mysterious video, which had been sourced from the Darknet, that was later destroyed. Cory Arcangel optimizes this very webpage so search engines like Google can easily locate it. Other artists deal with Deep Web phenomena that also exist between anonymity and commerce: Robert Sakrowski is curating YouTube videos on the history of hacktivist group Anonymous, Valentina Tanni is making available her collection of her best memes and Simon Denny will provoke questions about big data interchange. Heath Bunting examines data storage devices in relation to identity networks by means of gift cards, American Express credit cards or iPhones. An online identity can also be deleted – as Seth Price demonstrates with how to disappear in america.

The Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen links the Surface web and the Deep Web which are interlocked – From Memes to Onionland. Aware of the dangers of the Deep Web, an approach from multiple perspectives is intended. It is an attempt to grasp this extremely controversial phenomenon of hacking the Deep Web with artistic contributions, archive material, workshops and discussions. The format of the exhibition gives visitors access to the Deep Web and questions familiar notions – Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen can now also be found on the Deep Web at http://vtw7g7wcdsgxq4ru.onion/ (only with a tor-browser)."


Exhibition view: xhacker02, Artwork by Anonymous

Read more about the sale of "Artwork by Anonymous".

Photos: Gunnar Meier, Kunsthalle Sankt Gallen
A cooperation between Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, :digital brainstorming from Migros-Kulturprozent and !Mediengruppe Bitnik
Special thanks to Prof. Dr. Felix Stalder for generously contributing ideas and expertise and to Dr. iur. Bruno Glaus for the support in legal matters.

Exploration into Darknet, Widewalls, Bojan Maric, 17.12.2014
The Darknet. From Memes to Onionland. An Exploration, Kunstforum, Dominique von Burg, Band 230, 2014