Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Back with the first full-scale fair since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the 15th edition of Art Dubai is exploring new frontiers with the launch of its new section highlighting digital and NFT (non-fungible token) art.
Alongside the regular contemporary and modern showcases, Art Dubai Digital gathered 18 galleries from March 10-13 at Madinat Jumeirah, some of which were only founded in the last few years. The new section was created in response to a serious shift in the global art scene, which has seen increasing interest in digital mediums and the rise of NFT art.
“We’ve been observing how the digital universe has been developing and having a stronger voice during lockdown,” Art Dubai artistic director Pablo del Val said.
“What we intended is to put together something that could be a 360-degree project, that could become a bridge between the digital and the physical, where both worlds can get together.
“Taking into consideration that Dubai has become a crypto capital, it’s a place where some of the most exciting minds and projects are coming,” he added.
“NFTs at the moment are like an entire universe by itself – a universe that people are afraid of entering because people don’t have knowledge of this universe. I think this is an edition that is stepping up, that is bringing something new.”
‘Beyond the canvas’
Solo exhibition “Cosmodreams” by artist Marina Fedorova has bridged traditional art and digital technology, incorporating virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) into her paintings and sculptural installations.
The exhibition displays how technology can be used to make art more interactive and immersive. Her works capture the beauty of outer space and how modern technology has affected our planet.
Viewers can use their smartphones to see the animated AR features on the paintings and sculptures, or take photos with the works.
“If the smartphone absorbs our contemporaries’ attention entirely, why not look at paintings through the phone screen and learn a story beyond the canvas?” Fedorova said.
“We are adapting to new conditions; in many areas our life becomes digital. The pandemic served as a catalyst, it made us think of ways to make it possible for people to visit museums while staying at home, about the kinds of experience we can enable through the screens.
“Ironically, as a painter I was against any technological advancement initially. I believed that there was nothing better than paper or canvas with some paint on it,” she added. “However, these times changed my opinion significantly, made me understand that new technologies are just a new tool in the artist’s palette.”
Touch screens, QR codes and VR headsets invited users to participate in the works and films, changing them from viewer to participant.
The digital section not only introduced these NFT artists and galleries to the established institutions, but also demystified the technology and terminology – such as cryptocurrency, minting and blockchain – to potential collectors and artists interested in broadening their horizons.
A series of talks by Bybit was also part of the programme. Campus Art Dubai – a longrunning non-profit arm of the fair that runs education programmes for art students – this year partnered with NFT art marketplace Materia for an eight-week workshop for UAE-based artists.
The resulting NFT artworks were exhibited at the fair. Blockchain is a system of recording information, such as digital assets, in a way that makes it difficult to change or hack.
Minting is the act of turning a digital asset into an NFT, by recording it in blockchain.“Digital art is not easy to exchange without needing a device or USB but when it’s registered on blockchain, you don’t need to be dependent on physical devices,” Materia co-founder Patricia Ezpeleta told Al Jazeera.
“Blockchain also allows you to have traceability of the artworks, which is very useful for artists, as they can benefit from royalties on resales of their artworks.
“NFTs allow artists and owners to prove that it’s the original version,” she added. “For collectors, they can prove that they own the original file and sometimes you get people stealing other people’s work off the internet and claiming it is theirs, but with NFT it can be proven false because the registry is public.”
‘Beautiful metaverse galleries’
Morrow Collective, a UAE-based NFT curatorial platform founded last year, wants to make the NFT experience more engaging, through curating shows. Tablets lined the walls of their booth, showing colourful, slightly animated artworks, varying from hyper-realistic portraits to pop art digital drawings.
“I’ve been an NFT artist since 2020 and I noticed in my time in NFTs that there was really not a whole lot of curating,” Morrow co-founder Jen Stelco said.
“It was all looking like a little bit of a mess and it was hard to find what we consider to be the good art, or the art that has some substance.
“Since then we’ve come together to curate NFTs, find ways of helping of getting them to tell stories and have dialogue between them and presenting them in a different way, rather than just on an NFT platform where you’re scrolling, much like Instagram or Google Images,” she added.
“We have these beautiful metaverse galleries … and we curate them into art exhibitions in our galleries, to create more of a true to life art experience, but digitally.”
A lot of the NFT art is largely experimental, seeing what can be achieved with the technology, rather than creating art with a meaning or purpose. Trends or popular themes have yet to emerge.
For many artists used to working with paint or producing photography, digital NFT art is new territory that needs learning, before they can apply thought behind the content itself.
Digital artist Lawrence Lek has had the benefit of working in film, music and open-world game design for 10 years. Presented by virtual gallery Horizons, in partnership with NFT marketplace So-Far and virtual gallery Aora, Lek’s “Nepenthe Valley” offers a mystical alternate world to explore, which promotes restorative meditation. Lek unveiled four out of nine upcoming fictional ruins situated in serene landscapes.
The exhibit, curated by Jenn Ellis, is half 3D-printed architectural models of the ruins, and half NFT digital renditions of the locations, complete with neon accents, relaxing soundscapes and dynamic weather and lighting.
“I was drawing a lot from the ideas of sublime landscapes and places that are more associated with healing and expanded consciousness,” Lek told Al Jazeera.
“A big influence for me quite often is science fiction and Napenthe Valley is to do with these places that are in between the future and a ruin of the past. So like thinking about places that might evoke a kind of classical architecture, but at the same time, they’re neon lit.
“[Healing] is something that’s treated differently in video games, because you can regenerate yourself, you can pick potions and elixirs that heal you,” he added.
“In the valley, I’ve created static points of view where people can sit and meditate, like how you would climb a mountain to see the view at the top, as a place that is apart from your everyday reality.”
Despite NFTs being created in 2015, it is only in the last year that they have become part of mainstream conversation. NFT art might not yet be widely accepted or understood, but with institutions such as Art Dubai spotlighting them, it won’t be long before they’re established on the art scene.
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7 Leading Curators Predict the Defining Art Trends of 2023 – Artsy
Jan 30, 2023 11:57PM
In 2022, we witnessed a rise in neo-surrealist art, NFTs, and textile-based art practices. These were trends that were bubbling to the surface by the end of 2021, but weren’t fully realized until the spring of the following year. Now, many other styles are emerging as key genres that may have their moment this year.
Artsy spoke to seven leading curators who lent their expertise and shared their insights on which styles and themes may newly emerge or continue to garner attention in 2023. Many anticipate that the sociopolitical climate will continue to inform artists’ practices, with some predicting a rise in more provocative art that critiques religion and systemic oppression.
Other curators are looking to Latin American new media practices, and are excited by how artists like Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro and Xandra Ibarra use video and installation to create immersive environments that challenge the separation between the screen and the body. Meanwhile, others are intrigued by the possibilities and questions that AI will continue to raise in relation to authorship in the art world.
All the curators expressed an overall interest in artists who push the limits of their given medium, and continue to expand upon their practices in innovative ways. Overall, there is excitement and hopeful promise that 2023 will bring about a year of artistic risks.
Independent Curator; Co-Founder, Artnoir
Portrait of Larry Ossei-Mensah by Aaron Ramsey. Courtesy of Larry Ossei-Mensah.
Larry Ossei-Mensah predicts that abstraction by artists of color will become even more prominent in 2023. The genre, Ossei-Mensah believes, is essential to shifting the public’s belief that artists of color should only make representational work that is immediately legible. As an example, he pointed to the divisive reaction towards Hank Willis Thomas’s recently unveiled public sculpture The Embrace (2022). Ossei-Mensah also expects that abstract masters like Mo Booker, Raymond Saunders, Howardena Pindell, Emma Amos, Atta Kwami, and Barbara Chase Riboud will receive overdue recognition in 2023 as more institutions reexamine their bodies of work in relation to the younger generation they’ve inspired.
Ossei-Mensah anticipates that criticism by writers of color, specifically those who engage with abstract art’s relationship to cultural practice, will be particularly impactful on the art world. He cited the work of Hilton Als, Robin Givhan, Folsade Ologundudu, and Doreen St. Felix as ones to watch. Additionally, he listed the 2023 solo exhibitions of artists Chase Hall, Guadalupe Maravilla, Ming Smith, Tomashi Jackson, Frank Stewart, Amoako Boafo, Kennedy Yanko, and Anoushka Mirchandani as indicative of what’s to come this year.
Hans Ulrich Obrist
Artistic Director, Serpentine Galleries
Portrait of Hans Ulrich Obrist by Andrew Quinn. © Andrew Quinn.
Hans Ulrich Obrist is looking towards the work of Black, Indigenous, and Latinx artists who are rethinking notions of ownership, land, and the body in relation to futurity. He is particularly excited by immersive and interactive new media art, like video games. As he explained, “Video games are to the 21st century what movies were to the 20th century, and novels to the 19th century. Today, it’s much easier for artists to develop their gaming environments.”
Obrist referenced the work of Gabriel Massan at the Serpentine Galleries as a key example of an artist who is “uncovering new meanings on video games and phenomenology…that invites players to activate a fantastical and disorienting world populated with Massan’s digital sculptures, bespoke animation, films, camerawork, and sound developed by his collaborators,” he said. Obrist situates Massan within an incredible generation of artists from Brazil, including Jota Mombaça and Ventura Profana, who use technology to reexamine futurity and a sense of place while in dialogue with decolonial thought and practice.
Adrián Villa Rojas, Yinka Shonibare, and Otobong Nkanga, as Obrist noted, are similarly starting transnational dialogues that imagine a new future for us all. “As artist Ian Cheng often told me, at the heart of his art is a desire to understand what a world is,” Obrist said. “Now more than ever, the dream is to be able to possess the agency to create new worlds.”
Curator, New Museum
Portrait of Vivian Crockett by Ciara Elle Bryant. Courtesy of the New Museum.
Vivian Crockett is fascinated by what will emerge in the fields of new media art, film, and photography, particularly by artists of color from Latin America. In 2022, more opportunities arose for critical reflection on Latin American art and artists, as evident at the Whitney Biennial “Quiet as It’s Kept,” and the Focus and Platform sections of The Armory Show. This will likely continue through 2024 as Adriano Pedrosa mounts the 60th edition of the Venice Biennale’s international exhibition, becoming the first Latin American curator in its 122-year history.
When approaching Latin American art, Crockett emphasized that an understanding of the continent’s political landscapes is crucial. “There is an increased acknowledgement of white supremacist logic affecting Latin American countries, both historically and in the present moment, resulting in more explicit conversations around race, class, and Indigenous struggles for autonomy,” she said.
In terms of the media art that is attracting her interest, Crockett is looking forward to the transnational conversations that the Sharjah Biennial and São Paulo Bienal will provoke. Stateside, she is excited by the major video and media exhibitions taking place at MoMA and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth later this year, as well as Isaac Julien’s survey at Tate Britain and Ja’Tovia Gary’s solo show at Paula Cooper Gallery.
Curator, Bronx Museum
Portrait of Eileen Jung. Courtesy of the Bronx Museum.
Eileen Jung predicts that land art, Indigeneity, and immersive art practices will take center stage in 2023. In particular, she pointed to artists who use conceptual art to navigate history and memory, including Firelei Báez, Chloë Bass, Maria Berrio, Andrea Chung, Joana Choumali, Sean Desiree, Abigail DeVille, Anaïs Duplan, Scherezade García, Guadalupe Maravilla, Daniel Lie, and Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow. Jung added, “Each of these artists have unique perspectives and contributions, and through their work, they’ve introduced a level of newness and depth to the overall artistic zeitgeist.”
Jung further elaborated that artists who provide counternarratives to the dominant historical record, and push the boundaries of their medium across abstract and figurative painting as well as sculpture, will continue to set the trends. She specifically noted the practices of Derek Fordjour, Tomashi Jackson, Sara Jimenez, Anina Major, Natalia Nakazawa, Angel Otero, Kevin Quiles Bonilla, Amina Ross, Tariku Shiferaw, Jean Shin, and Saya Woolfalk. Jung added that the critical scholarship of Lisa Lowe, Anna L. Tsing, and Saidiya Hartman will continue to inform artistic pulses.
She remains excited for new rediscoveries in 2023, like how ceramics has been in recent years. “Another area that is often overlooked are those artists who are self-taught, often labeled as ‘outsider artists’ (e.g., those whose work does not reflect an overt influence from the mainstream art world), and are bringing a new energy to the field,” Jung wrote to Artsy.
Curator, Montclair State Galleries
Montclair, New Jersey
Portrait of Jesse Firestone by Jenna Bascom Photography, LLC’s Associate Photographer Nelson. Courtesy of Montclair State Galleries.
Jesse Firestone is on the lookout for more genre-breaking art in 2023. In particular, they point to outsider art practices—like using humor or making provocative works with unconventional material and subject matter—as big trends for the year. “I think performance artists who embrace failure while taking their work seriously, but aren’t self-serious, will receive a lot more attention,” they said. “There is a lot to learn from this type of work and I think people are hungry to see how we can work with imperfection, messiness, and unpredictability. 2023 is a year of embracing risk.”
Firestone’s attention to risk comes out of crypto art’s tumultuous year in 2022. The incredibly rapid rise and subsequent fall of NFTs have demonstrated that, while artists will continue to innovate art with new technology, some trends might crash as fast and they rose. Firestone believes that artists will continue to learn from the market and reflect upon the failures of these experiences in their work. Because of the NFT crash, Firestone sees physical media art, or art that embraces the body, as major for 2023. This is work they actively support as a curator: “Ultimately I like being able to provide artists with the space to stretch, take risks, and succeed in those efforts,” Firestone said.
Rachel Vera Steinberg
Curator, Smack Mellon
Portrait of Rachel Vera Steinberg by Inna Svyatsky. Courtesy of Smack Mellon.
Rachel Vera Steinberg is excited for a greater number of artists to further deepen the mystery of art production across sculpture and computer-generated art. She is inspired by artists who push the boundaries of the medium they are working in, as well as the space in which they exhibit. She cited the work of Emily Clayton, Tomi Faison, and Charisse Pearlina Weston as key examples. Steinberg also anticipates more conceptually driven work in relation to text- and discourse-based art, like K Allado-McDowell’s recent book Amor Cringe (2022), which was co-written with AI software.
Additionally, Steinberg predicts that last year’s challenges around systemic injustice will usher in artists addressing class and social equity in the art world. “One of the most impactful trends from this past year was the proliferation of AI image generators,” she said. “It’s hard to forecast this as a direction, but it has the potential to further call into question images as receptacles of meaning.”
Separately, Steinberg believes that more artworks inspired by religion will reach the fore in 2023. “I feel like we are entering a moment of reconsidering religion, inclusive of, but also beyond, its relationship to spirituality,” she explained. “I see this formally in visual symbols and materiality: For example, in the way an artist like Tammy Nguyen incorporates metal leaf to reference illuminated manuscripts, but also in other modes of production that are trending, such as a heightened interest in metal work.”
Director, Chisenhale Gallery
Portrait of Zoé Whitley by James Gifford-Mead. Courtesy of Zoé Whitley.
Zoé Whitley is looking to painters who are embracing unconventional materials or pushing the limits of their painting practice to render something vibrantly different and new. “The artists who currently inspire me defy genre expectations,” she said.
Furthermore, Whitley is looking forward to artists collaborating more with nonprofit organizations. She hopes that these partnerships, and their accompanying resources, will support ambitious art practices and culminate into long-running exhibitions that a greater number of viewers will be able to see and experience.
These later points are greatly influenced by Tricia Hersey’s manifesto Rest is Resistance (2022) and Avery Gordon’s Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1997), which both argue for a process of slowing down with media materials to allow for their presence to be felt, haunting the audience.
Ayanna Dozier is Artsy’s Staff Writer.
Tom Sachs Reveals New McDonald's Public Art – HYPEBEAST
Over the weekend, contemporary visionary Tom Sachs took to Instagram to reveal a new public art piece.
Sachs is taking street art to the next level, showcasing the process of his “Enamel on Trailer” piece that he painted on the side of a red trailer in the middle of Connecticut. The post features a series of images of Sachs painting his own rendition of the McDonald’s golden arches and branding. The piece includes signage on the bottom right corner of the trailer and appears to be dated in 2022. A closer look sees that Sachs finds perfection in imperfection as paint leaves streaks from the dripping.
The caption of the Instagram also showcases the dimension as well as the location of the piece — Max Power Motors in New Milford, Connecticut, and is “on display 24/7.” The post also shows a Google Map zoom in on where Max Power Motors is located in the world, giving fans who might be interested or passing by, a chance to view the work.
Take a look below.
In other art news, here is an official look at Jahan Loh’s Doraemon Sofubi toys.
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