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Error 404: A Virtual Fine Arts Senior Thesis Exhibition
Error 404 is a virtual thesis project developed by students in a year-long studio and research-based class taught by Kayla Romberger and Ivanco Talevski at the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design. The project site was created through, and in response to, the global pandemic that shook the world to its core in the spring of 2020. The site presents the fruits of nearly a year of labor—interrupted and abutted by the crisis—and presents a range of interdisciplinary projects on themes that emerged concerning identity, global politics, and ecology in relation to current social and political conditions.
A 404 error message is the standardized HTTP status code displayed when the URL or content of a website has been deleted or moved elsewhere. Our Error 404 features an eerily similar parallel: a physical exhibition had been moved from on space to a (digital) other. The virtual exhibition included on this site is a one-to-one recreation of the School of Design’s Meyerson Gallery at Penn, the original site of the seniors’ thesis show slated for exhibition in March 2020, faithfully rendered in virtual space by seniors Natalia Cabelceta and Stara Diamond, with diligent assistance from the class on individual works respectively from one project to another.
The collective work in this exhibition represents a snapshot of hope and resistance, a radical effort to address and take at face value the instability of our current circumstances. In keeping with that ethos, we looked to projects from throughout history made under similarly extenuating circumstances as our guide, working as a group to support one another and develop each student’s individual research, voices, and ideas. In short, this year's thesis embraces the idea of working with the given constraints rather than against them. From Tatlin's Tower to the post-war movement to the WPA, to examples of utopia and even failure, Error 404, the 2020 Senior Thesis Exhibition at the University of Pennsylvania, is a many-layered re-configuration of a thesis and a challenge to what our conceptions of being and living and making an exhibition in the present conditions might be.
—Kayla Romberger & Ivanco Talevski