In December of 2000, the website of the largest institution of contemporary art in Venezuela, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Caracas was hacked and later on re-registered (during the time the domain name was hacked) in order to expose its failure as a museum of “contemporary art”.
The new website replaced the information on the Museum’s Biennial formerly known as “Pirelli Salon of Young Artists”, sponsored by Pirelli (the world tire manufacturer). In this way, it was introduced a new curatorial essay which criticized the curatorial essay written by the official curators, and the name of the biennial was changed to “Pirelli Salon of Young Digital Artists”. In addition, it was set up an electronic form to submit digital based projects and a Spanish translated version of “Introduction to the Net Art” by Natalie Bookchin and Alexei Shulgin, leaders of the Net Art movement.
First edition of the Pirelli Salon of Young Digital Artists
The Pirelli Salon of Young Digital Artists became the first Salon of Digital Art in Venezuela and South America. It was a global exhibition in the sense that Venezuelan artists living all over the world sent proposals to participate. Many artists were selected and some others were invited, including Cory Arcangel, Mouchette, Carlo Zanni, John Cabral and Yuho Nakamura, among others.
The action not only set a precedent in the history of Latin American Art, but it also helped to establish a profound dialogue among all the art community about the importance of Net Art and Digital Art in the study of Contemporary Art. After this, the Museum created a Multimedia Center and other institutions started having Digital and Net Art exhibitions. MACCSI.ORG also established a reference to the WHITNEYBIENNIAL.COM, a similar action that happened the next year after the Venezuelan biennial. In 2004, Merhi analyzed the theft of the notorious paint ‘Odalisque avec trousers’, also known as ‘La odalisca con pantalón rojo’, by Henri Matisse.
Intro of the second edition of the Pirelli Salon of Young Digital Artists
Maccsi.org portrayed hacking as a model for social sculpture, a tool for public discourse to expose the hierarchical nature of cultural institutions. This model of exhibition helped to create a multidimensional dialogue among artists and peers that are using the net, illustrating the ubiquitous force of our digital age.