Quarantine Culture: 5 Ways to Experience Design and Art Without Leaving Your Home

The Louisiana Museum’s near-infinite channel, virtual visits to Frank Lloyd Wright hallmarks, a diaristic artist video series, and more.

As the novel coronavirus spreads, the cultural sector has slowed to a halt: Museums and galleries are shuttered in many countries, and fairs and festivals have been canceled. At the advice of experts, people are hunkering down to self-quarantine and practice social distancing. The situation is evolving quickly, a new reality is being forced upon us, and fields like architecture and painting can seem trivial. And yet, at moments of such isolation and crisis, art, design, and performance can offer powerful means of connection—and a welcome escape from the disorienting present. With exhibitions and concerts called off, our editors survey five low-risk ways to experience culture—from an Instagram Live interview series about the importance of slow design to Pioneer Works’ brand-new content platform, and more.

Hirshhorn Artist Diaries

Most, if not all, major museums have been closed for well over a month, yet are finding innovative new ways to translate their programming online. A particularly stellar example comes courtesy of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, which has asked more than 100 international artists to record diaristic snippets of their experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic for an “artist historical record.” Commissioned by artist Theaster Gates (a Hirshhorn board member) and museum director Melissa Chiu, the video series “collects insights during a time when artists, like billions around the world, have had their daily lives and routines disrupted in extreme ways,” says Gates, whose video sees him meditating on the notion of space while he wanders his cavernous Chicago studio. Not only will Hirshhorn Artist Diaries offer unique insights into the perspective of major artists like Shirin Neshat, Christine Sun Kim, and Ragnar Kjartansson, it helps document a crucial historical moment as many grapple with mandatory self-isolation for the first time. The videos, which usually run for over a minute, will be rolled out twice a week on the museum’s Instagram and YouTube channels. 


Louisiana Channel

Another stellar example of a museum making the most of video streaming comes from the Louisiana Museum in Copenhagen. Among its staggering repertoire of more than 750 videos on its “Louisiana Channel,” which it has been updating continuously since 2012, are in-depth interviews and portraits of renowned artists, architects, and authors. Step inside the fantastical studio of video artist Pipilotti Rist, hear Pritzker Prize–winning architect Alejandro Aravena’s advice to the younger generation, and understand why Karim Rashid refers to himself as a “design pervert.” One of the channel’s most popular videos is a survey of performance art pioneer Marina Abramovic and her late longtime collaborator, Ulay, who both reflect on their unusual relationship that dates back to 1975. There’s something here for everyone—and that’s the point. “We regard Louisiana Channel as a public service media including something more and something else than a digital extension of the exhibitions,” writes Louisiana director Poul Erik Tojner. “We produce culture and we document the arts in dialogue with the artists.”


Studio Seitz founders Kevin Seitz and Rob van Wyen. Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Studio Seitz: Less But Better

Studio Seitz, the Brooklyn-based design studio inspired by traditional Swiss craftsmanship, has long maintained a commitment to the principles of Slow Living. “Slow Living is decelerating the pace of modern life,” the co-founders write on Instagram. “It brings focus back to a more conscious, balanced, and meaningful lifestyle—savoring the minutes instead of counting them. It’s that old mantra of quality instead of quantity.” Starting on April 30 on Instagram Live, Van Wyen and Seitz will discuss how Slow Living relates to their own craft and what it means for the future of society during these uncertain times with a guest roster that includes interiors photographer Stephen Kent Johnson, the Design Release co-founder Julia Haney Montanez, and illustrator Malika Favre.


Hollyhock House by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photography by Joshua White


Most of us will likely be confined indoors for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend to explore spectacular architecture. A bevy of buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright are keeping their virtual doors open thanks to #WrightVirtualVisits, a partnership between the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and the Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, which are conducting a series of virtual video tours of notable structures designed by the renowned American architect. Each week, conservators of a specific Frank Lloyd Wright building are sharing a brief tour of a different Wright site. In doing so, perhaps devotees of one Wright building can discover previously unknown work or temporarily escape to somewhere besides their living room. It’s a great way to brush up on architecture that UNESCO deemed worthy enough to add to its World Heritage List. Each week, two new Wright buildings will participate in the tour swap.


Nate Lewis, Signaling XXIII, 2020. Hand-sculpted inkjet print, ink, graphite, frottage. Courtesy of the artist and Fridman Gallery.

Pioneer Works: Broadcast

Even though its physical location may be shuttered, Pioneer Works is bringing its creative community straight to your inbox. The venerable arts space, located in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, has launched the Broadcast, an online content platform that aims to provoke thought and start conversations about music, technology, science, and the arts. The first editions include a tribute to the late musician Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, an interview with the acclaimed poet Nick Flynn, and an in-depth look at artist and Pioneer Works residency alumnus Nate Lewis. “We are here to incubate ideas, experiment with structure and aesthetic, shirk off conventional dogmas, and reach a community drawn from around the world and our beloved neighborhood,” says the cosmologist and Pioneer Works’ director of sciences Janna Levin. “The Broadcast is an offering we hope will feel both modest and grand, because we are all grown smaller and bigger at once.”

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