Every so often palm-sized red knots come into view, woven through the grid of Gudrun Filipska’s Instagram account. A fish bowl filled with bottled Canadian seawater and nestled into the grasses of the Cambridgeshire Fens reappears empty with a rusty key at the bottom.

The accompanying captions reveal these intriguing objects to be part of the ‘S Project’, Filipska’s ongoing exchange with Canadian artist Carly Butler.

Filipksa began using Instagram when she undertook ‘An Artist Residency in Motherhood’, a self-selecting residency for artist mothers started by American artist Lenka Clayton.

Clayton recommended the platform as a way to connect with other artist mothers and to develop networks for support and exchange. Filipska found this to be true: “It’s quite a useful place where discussion can be started and continued through messages, emails and sometimes become ‘real life’ professional relationships or friendships.”

Filipska has continued to share insights into her working processes on her own Instagram and for Arts Territory Exchange, an organisation she founded to bring artists working in remote locations together.

One of the first things the organisation asks participants to do is to take a photograph of the view from their home or studio, which is shared with their exchange partner. “However spectacular their landscape may be, it is mediated through a mundane domestic shot which has as its interests the minutiae of daily life rather than anything spectacular.”

I ask Filipska about the prevalence of landscape imagery on Instagram and how artists could counteract what can be considered superficial image making: “I don’t think it is an artist’s job to set out to correct these visual tropes, just as it wouldn’t be their job to rifle through someone’s personal photo album of holiday snaps and offer judgement. But other perspectives can be offered as counterpoint, yes.”

She adds: “My hope was Arts Territory Exchange could act as a kind of interface between the two worlds of reality and simulation, particularly simulations and assumptions about landscape identity and ‘otherness’.”

There is a sense of community and connection in Filipska’s online presence, particularly through the founding of Arts Territory Exchange.

I suggest that this contradicts a prevailing story that social media is causing isolation: “It is both isolating and a lifeline at the same time I think, and of course it really is the most subjective of mediums. In my own very partial experience it enables me to reach out to the world and make connections without leaving home and children.”

Despite these positives, the dystopian is never far away. “I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction,” says Filipska. “So every serotonin hit I get from a new Instagram ‘like’ is backgrounded by thoughts about the end of it all!”

Gudrun Filipska is showing in ‘Saunter, Trek, Escort, Parade’, Queens Museum, New York, 28 October – 2 December 2018.

Use the Artists + Instagram tag for more in the series

STEP, Carly Butler and Gudrun Filipksa S Project Archive. Courtesy: the artists

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