Art in the midst of COVID-19: How the AMS Hatch Art Gallery Will Operate This Fall

There is a different kind of excitement that comes with entering a gallery (with or without a glass of wine).

You can pick up a brochure which tells you whose work you’ll be seeing, while navigating through a maze of emotions in hopes of finding a piece of art that calls to you.

This is how art galleries used to operate before COVID-19 challenged the way everything —from fingers, to germs, to your friends — occupies space.

For the Hatch, the AMS’s student-run art gallery, navigating the running the operation of an art gallery in light of physical distancing restrictions means determining how exhibitions and collections can be displayed in a distant manner, whether in person or virtually.

With ‘And So They Print’, the Hatch's first virtual exhibition, the gallery made its debut into the world of mobile galleries. From September 14 to September 30, the exhibition showcased the work of seven artists.

The exhibition combined elements of live research with Instagram takeovers to display the projects. They also printed brochures and zines to mail off to attendees from around the world.

According to Reiko Inouye, the director of the Hatch Art Gallery, the exhibition provided a chance for the space to be seen whilst the exhibition was in the middle of construction. This is a move that is often missing in live art galleries where one is expected to view a finished product.

“It was cool to be able to invite viewers into the process and present this exhibition as a research project, rather than [just saying] ‘here's some pieces on a wall, come take a look at them,’” said Inouye.

“I think it made [the art] a little bit more vulnerable.”

With both terms of the 2020/21 academic year functioning primarily online, the Hatch plans to adapt to holding a mixture of live and virtual elements. While some events are being hosted over its Instagram currently, the gallery aims to host events on its newly launched website soon also. Inouye also said that the Hatch may consider hosting smaller in-person exhibitions in the second term.

“I think COVID has really made art spaces rethink how we're conducting ourselves and the ways in which we have changed, but also [we’re thinking about] the ways we should have already changed in terms of, who are the artists we're representing? How are we displaying these pieces? Is it inviting? Is it leaving people out?” they said.

“We can technically use the space but [in a] very limited capacity. So our hope is that because our exhibitions aren't relying on physical space, we can utilise the space in ... ways that we never have been able to offer before,” said Inouye.