New online artworks connecting us when we’re apart

About this series

First conceived as a response to the pandemic shutdown in March 2020, Up Close is a digital series that invites artists and creative thinkers to contribute new artworks and discussions exploring what it means to think about the world and make art right now.

Taking advantage of digital media as a platform for expression, these commissions allow artists to share their voices and perspectives, while opening access to their work as free to a large, online audience. With Up Close, The Shed responds to the multiple crises our city has experienced, and their ongoing effects, by supporting and amplifying creative ideas and the city’s broader cultural ecosystem.

Though our favorite gathering places like restaurants, cinemas, libraries, and cultural organizations are reopening, Up Close continues to explore the valuable intimacy that artists and audiences can discover by connecting through digital means. Up Close relies on the proximity we have to our phones and computers to bring us closer to the creative process, and to each other. It also offers artists a creative outlet and platform and, more importantly, a challenging new opportunity to push themselves to intentionally take on this new way of producing and presenting art.

Stay tuned as we share new content on our social media channels (@theshedny), including YouTube, and our website.

Looking Back on UP CLOSE

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a hit to our systems with little warning. To every system that provided trust, protection, and comprehension in our lives: healthcare, employment, education, and families and communities among so many others. No less, to culture and art.

Soon after The Shed closed temporarily on March 12, 2020, we understood that “the way through” would be collective and driven by empathy. In our first virtual meetings, we repeated the mantra “humanity first” as we checked in with one another. We responded with “humanity first” to artists when they apologized for missing deadlines. And this became our motto for Up Close, the online series we launched on April 19, 2020, which comes to a close this month, 15 digital commissions later.

In each of these works, the range of human emotions transpire: fear, anguish, and loss, but also collaboration, care, and the tenacity of looking for joy. Close to 40 artists ventured into the virtual domain, openly shared their truths, and created space to hold and accompany us all as we found our own ways through, with dance, music, poetry, in-depth conversations, laughter, silence, and beauty. Together, their work leaves behind a unique diary of what the last 18 months have been like.

Salome Asega and Keenan MacWilliam’s commission marks the perfect end to this diary: an invitation for you all to participate, to create and share, and to keep envisioning what culture means for you.

If you haven’t yet, or if you need a little reminder, please take this note also as encouragement to go back and spend some time with all of these outstanding artists and their works. It’s humbling, emotional, and definitely worth the while!

Solana Chehtman, Director of Civic Programs
October 2021

Program Credits

Up Close is organized by Solana Chehtman, Director of Civic Programs, with Sarah Dhobhany, Assistant Producer of Public Programs, and Justin Wong, Civic Programs Coordinator. The Shed’s multidisciplinary commissioning program is developed by Alex Poots, Artistic Director and CEO, with the senior program team, including Emma Enderby, Chief Curator; Tamara McCaw, Chief Civic Program Officer; Madani Younis, Chief Executive Producer; and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor.

Thank you to our partners

The Shed is connected by
Up Close is supported by
The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners.