Social Distance Gallery

Social Distance Gallery

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Social Distance Gallery is an Instagram-based art project created by Benjamin Cook. It cataloged, archived and digitally exhibited thousands of works of art by graduating art students that had their exhibitions canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns. The format for the online exhibition consisted of a colored block with the name of an art school and a list of the students involved, followed by a series of posts containing 3-5 works from each of the artists within the program. The project began on Friday, March 13, 2020 and abruptly ended on Saturday, June 19, 2021.


Launched with an Instagram post consisting of a rainbow colored block of text, Cook launched Social Distance Gallery and asked individuals to share the post and DM the account for information about how to submit artwork. Instead of a personal name, the account used the phrase "Intellectually Engaged," followed by a bio that read "Hosting BFA & MFA thesis shows amid the pandemic. Project by @benjamincookart"


The initial post was shared largely through Instagram stories and the account quickly grew to 17,000 followers in a matter of days. As the account began posting work, the project gained international attention and was covered by various news outlets such as Forbes, The Chicago Reader The Art Newspaper, Art News, and Social Distance Gallery also inspired a broad usage of the term within other online art exhibition spaces. Social Distancing Festival was launched as a website dedicated to showcasing the work of preforming artists. The Garrett Museum of Art began posting images of art online under a project of the same name.

Black Out Tuesday

As a part of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Social Distance Gallery posted a solid black square as a part of the #blackouttuesday campaign. Shortly after posting, the account deleted the solid black square, updated its bio with a link to a Google Doc of anti-racism resources, and replaced it with a black square containing the text "Please, click the link in bio for resources that will assist in awareness, education, and ways to assist in the unfair treatment of Americans. Please."

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