Today we’re shining a spotlight on GBTH, which stands for Grab by the Horns, an art incubator in Second Life celebrating its 6th anniversary this week. Learn more about GBTH from the founder, Marina Munter.
GBTH Workshop - photo by Soyoy
How long have you been in Second Life and how did you first hear about it?
I joined Second Life back in 2012 and recently celebrated my 11th rezday on September 1st!
Back in 2008, I read about the art world in Second Life in Wolf Lieser’s Digital Artbook that I found around my mother’s library. Artists like Gazira Babeli and Eva + Franco Mattes were mentioned for the work they developed inworld back in the day.
Sadly at the time I didn’t have full-time access to the internet and I was also underage, so I waited until the stars aligned to finally create an account!
You are the founder and owner of GBTH, an art incubator in Second Life. Can you tell us more about it, when you started it, and what inspired you to do it? Was there a specific gap or need in the art community that you wanted to address?
The GBTH is an independent art incubator here in Second Life. It has its own region and hosts simultaneously 12+ exhibitions in diverse formats; individual and collective, full environments, and 2D. I started it back on October 17th, 2017 right after I had my first exhibition inworld, called Non-Perishable. It consisted of five monochromatic shipping containers filled with objects of the same color, assembled in a port-like environment built specifically for this exhibit. The dynamics of putting that body of work together made me fall in love deeply with Second Life as a creative platform and even before that exhibition opened I had a gazillion ideas for future projects popping into my head.
In real life, I had been gathering experience working as an assistant and mediator in a few exhibitions and projects, as well as an academic kickstart with a junior scholarship through the Fine Arts School in the Federal University of Bahia and joined my first collective real-life exhibit at the age of 15.
Here in Brazil, we say “joining the hunger and the desire to eat”, and I think that is exactly what happened. With GBTH I wanted to offer more than just an allocated space and a timeframe - we offer the support, guidance, and management to ensure their idea is coming through and that the exhibition will be completed in satisfactory ways for all parties involved. For us, there isn’t a distinction between art made in Second Life and art made in the physical world, in regards to the work itself - it is all art.
The art incubator is a concept that might be new to some readers. Can you provide a brief overview of what exactly is an art incubator, and how does it differ from traditional art museums or galleries?
In simple words, an art incubator focuses on the process of assisting the artist in putting together a body of work, whereas a gallery focuses mostly on sales and a museum, on preservation and display.
The way I wanted to see the GBTH functioning was to be more active than a mere space where artists would come and just rez their work - I wanted an actual exchange and mutual learning.
What challenges have you faced in launching and running GBTH, and how have you overcome them?
I had a super old slow computer back in the day. We’re talking like building with an average of 6fps. Using Second Life has a bit of a learning curve and I feel like every day there is something new to learn. Back in the day, my resources to run GBTH were limited to how persistent and creative I could be to keep it going. From asking friends if they could donate a piece of land for the first exhibitions to asking inventory items to be borrowed for a certain project - stuff that seems so simple looking back 6 years later but that played a big part in how I’d structure the place and its values.
We give an array of options on how to follow through in the process of putting together a body of work here, offering beforehand alternatives to prevent the artists we’re working with from dealing with the same issues so the conversation can move forward.
Being here in Second Life was also the first time I saw myself as a foreigner since I’m Brazilian and never traveled abroad. The cultural and generational barriers were curious to overcome, so one thing we always encourage is for artists to bring their own cultural background into their work, which results in extremely rich and honest exhibitions.
How can artists who want to participate get involved with GBTH, do they reach out to you? What types of artists and creative projects do you believe are particularly well-suited for incubation and support through GBTH?
We’re planning on making open calls at the beginning of 2024, so artists who might be interested in working with us can join our in-world group and follow us on social media to be the first to know once that happens, how to reach out and what to send.
The projects are selected based on several factors which vary from case to case, even because it depends on the format they apply to - 2D, full environments, or collective shows. It is important when applying, that the artist understands what we’re offering and what is being asked from them.
Each exhibition opened is a result of at least a few weeks of work and investment from all parts involved, and we wouldn’t do it any differently because it is part of what makes it pleasurable for us.
Colonia 2.0 Eupalinos Ugajin - GBTH presents Ed. Colonia 2.0
What is in the future for GBTH? Are there any upcoming events, exhibitions, or projects within GBTH that we should be on the lookout for?
Right now we’re wrapping up the final details for the biggest exhibition we had so far: GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE. It is a collective exhibition in collaboration with Rachel, and it will mark the celebrations of GBTH’s 6th anniversary.
For this 5th and last round, we asked the participants to answer how they were feeling through the assemblage and texturing of a figurine. These figurines are made with a kit provided by us with meshes by Rachel Breaker. We hosted a workshop for the participants to talk about conceptual thinking and workflow development and the response was so good! I’m beyond proud and excited to share the result with the rest of the grid.
GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE opens on October 20th, 1pm SLT, with a second party at 6pm SLT for those in the USA!
Collaboration and community can be essential for artists, GBTH is also a part of the Second Life Community Gateway Program, can you tell us more about that?
It is indeed, especially when we aim to burst the bubble and connect with residents who aren’t necessarily in the art field. We joined the Community Gateway Program back in 2019 and it helped us be even more aware of Second Life’s nature of being a user-based platform by not only being more “hands-on” in the process of user attraction and retention but also through the exchange with members of other CGs and getting to know more about the areas they focus in.
As a founder in the art space, you likely have a unique perspective on the art world. Are there any artists in SL that particularly inspire you, or whose work you admire?
I know it will sound cliche but every interaction I’ve had with all the few dozens of artists that passed through the GBTH was really inspiring in their own way. It is really hard to refer to names without feeling someone was left out. There are also people whom I admire and who don't exactly consider themselves artists, but that doesn't make them any less worthy of mention. To name a few:
Lux Chiantelle, an artist who owned the first gallery I visited in Second Life, Suntory Time, and blew my mind with the works on display there;
Vincent Priesley, whose brain I wish I could kiss for how it gifts us with the most fantastically intricate works that I’ve seen here;
Jake Vordun, for his contagious authenticity, elegance, and shared passion for art and museum displays;
Soy, whose creations made me feel at home when I was still not fully invested in Second Life.
GBTH bot photobomb by Autumn Yap
Where can people see your work and get more information about GBTH? Please share links to any sites and social media accounts.
On the GBTH website they can check all the current exhibitions, interviews with artists, links, etc...
We’re also on X, formerly Twitter as @GBTH_artinc
on Instagram as @gbth_artincubator
and on YouTube.
Watch Marina on Lab Gab in March 2021, giving a tour of GBTH!
Thank you, Marina, for adding your talent to the art community in Second Life and providing a platform for digital artists to express themselves!
Attend the GBTH x Rachel Breaker EPILOGUE opening party on Friday, October 20th, at 1pm SLT, with a second party at 6pm SLT for those in the USA, and celebrate 6 years of GBTH with the community!
Poster designed by Difficult Conundrum
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