RE-MERGE – the First Curated Showcase of NFT Artworks on the East End
Bridgehampton, July 21, 2021 | In collaboration with Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, HLK Art Group was very pleased to present RE-MERGE, an exhibition of new artworks by ten Contemporary artists experimenting with new technologies based both locally and around the world. The show focused on works that experimented with new technologies from video to AI while raising awareness for ocean conservation and coral reef restoration.
In addition, installed in the courtyard of the gallery we hosted the launch of online platform Ultra Art which featured a curated showcase of twelve newly minted digital NFT (non-fungible token) artworks. We had an incredible turnout as people donned their masks and got their socially-distanced legs on for the summer’s hopping event in the Hamptons.
Collectors were able to bid in real-time via their mobile devices where a portion of the proceeds will benefit Guild Hall in recognition of their 90th anniversary as well as the Coral Restoration Foundation and WildAid Marine to support efforts to protect coral reefs around the world. The opening was generously sponsored by Kidd Squid, a Sag Harbor-based artisanal brewing company.
“We are thrilled to present this exhibition that sits squarely at the intersection of art and technology while benefiting an organization like Guild Hall,” stated Kathryn Markel. “NFTs are sweeping the art world and RE-MERGE marks the first of its kind to be presented on the East End.”
Curator Lee Komaromi added, “By featuring these innovative works of art together, both physical and digital, visitors have an opportunity to reflect on the current state of our environment and futuristic ideals of a post-pandemic society.”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
American artist, Nicole Cohen, who specializes in video and installation art, will debut her first NFT artwork, Water Essential. An animated image of water morphs in and out of shapes underpinning the element’s intrinsic importance to human existence. Her video installation piece, FreshWater, depicts liquified movement evocative of rituals of rebirth referencing Bill Viola’s Purification work created for Peter Sellars’ staging of a Wagner opera. The works aptly represent the prevalent themes of re-emergence and revival throughout the show.
Sagaponack-based artist Steve Miller, whose work has been exhibited at the New Museum and the Florence Biennale, experiments across varying modes of multimedia including X-ray images of live endangered animals. In addition to his paintings and skateboards, his latest NFT, Pour Me Another, will be featured which calls attention to his craft as a gentle reminder that “painting is not dead”.
Also featured are two female artists-as-activists whose work draws attention to ocean conservation through their work, in particular coral barrier reefs–the “lungs of our planet”. British mixed media and light artist, Tatyana Murray meticulously etches classical images drawn from nature and the sea into multiple layers of pellucid perspex which are backlit by eco-friendly LED lights. The resulting veil-like image is a delicately floating image of refracted light set neither in time nor space.
The work brings the viewer into the piece oscillating in and out yet evoking complete calm and stillness like a radiant portal to an otherworldly utopia.
Spanish underwater performance photographer, Aldara Ortega literally takes a more submerged approach and dives with her lens to capture perfectly timed, fleeting moments amongst coral reefs in Roatan, Honduras. Together, they present a timely conversation on ecology, climate change, the sublime and spirituality.
The digital artists hail from Canada, Russia, Iran, Hawaii, and the United Kingdom including Christine Davis, Olga Ozerskaya, Firouz Farmanfarmaian, Max Lemaire and Daniel Lismore, respectively. As an added bonus, Dan Simerman’s ZED RUN, a digital horse stable, will be included featuring his renowned and rarified Nakamoto digital horse breed. Select NFT works will be available on the more eco-friendly Ethereum 2.0.
Firouz Farmanfarmaian‘s work is based in cosmogony, the theory of the origin of the universe and his belief that the ecology of the planet is inseparable from humanism. For his inaugural NFT series he started the process by making physical objects which he calls “takeovers”. He uses A3-A4 sketchbooks, acrylic, oil markers, household paint and appropriates found materials such as recycled cardboard, newspapers and magazines some of which are animated into Gifs on his Oculus VR headset. The expressive abstract composition is a meditative work that depicts his trademark layers of archaic semiotic tribal signs.
Collectively, the artists manifest sublime beauty by channeling Mother Nature in an effort to call attention to our changing environment and the ocean’s ecosystems as well as present new ways of making and looking at art through digital modes of experimentation.
While billions of dollars have been traded in NFT art creating a frenzied gold rush in the past few months, there have been few attempts to merge the mechanics of crypto art with the physical art market. The NFT curation aims to help demystify the technology as it relates to contemporary art bringing the spotlight back on the artists themselves. Their work, whether digital or material, is emotional and powerful regardless of the medium they choose. RE-MERGE is sure to take viewers on a visual journey of healing and revivification in a post-pandemic era.