Spread Art Not Viruses — art in the age of COVID19

In the wake of COVID19, those in the art industry are questioning the value and methods of a changing, newly virtual world. On every curator, artist, and gallerist’s mind: how can we interact with emerging digital mediums as we advance further away from the physical galleries?


Art has always been a way to connect audiences, from early Renaissance’s biblical messages to contemporary art’s warning of a sinking environment. In this manner, Spread Art Not Viruses promotes art that engages new concepts and global contexts to support COVID19 casualties. As the website states, art can be used powerfully as a communication tool, connecting international communities.

Started up by Beijing-born, Melbourne-based, Charlie Xiao, Spread Art Not Viruses is an art intuitive that uses social media and augmented reality to bring contemporary art beyond the physicality of the gallery walls. “[Social media] is a must-have binding material for any community art project, to glue everything together,” says Xiao. Because of this, Spread Art Not Viruses maximises these platforms to maintain a high level of interaction and engagement that democratically reaches every audience member in a new and inspirational way.

Spread Art Not Viruses is currently home to three artists, Peter Atkins, Chen Tianzhuo and Christopher Langton. The latter’s artwork, Colony (2019) was the incentive to start the digital collection. Langton’s sculpture installation of viruses and bacteria is a hyperreal manifestation of the artist’s own experiences of life-threatening disease and infection. “I find myself still amazed at the number of coincidences that my immersive installation ‘colony’ has with the coronavirus that is sweeping the world right now,” says the artist.

Xiao had purchased the artwork from Tolarno Galleries in Melbourne, but as physical exhibitions are on hold for now, the young curator wanted to find a suitable home that continued to share the artwork. Serendipitously, Theodore Wohng’s —the founder of ZOME AR— office joins Tolarno Galleries on Melbourne’s Exhibition Street. In collaboration with Wohng and Langton, Spread Art Not Viruses invites the artwork to be seen in an AR light.

“We are living in a digital age where information can be easily accessed, which compromises biased information and hurtful cultural divides,” says Xiao. “Spread Art Not Viruses exists to bring the community closer through the universal language of art.”

The ZOME app allows the viewer to be witness, and experience, art pieces, video works, writings, music compositions without leaving your homes or studios. While combining art and technology, the information can be accessed in a myriad of ways and is becoming a COVID19 art digital resource and catalogue. “It’s the future of how we receive information. We still want to connect with the existing context, but we also need all the extra supplementary resources to assist us with a stronger comprehension,” says Xiao “It’s an exciting new chapter for accessing the arts!”    

We are invited to download the ZOME app to experience the artworks while #stayingathome — and join the global community through #spreadartnotviruses.