From NFT pets to a dystopian video game, digital art stands out at Nada New York 2022

Nada, the fair organised by the New Art Dealers Alliance, opened its 2022 New York edition this week (5-8 May) at Pier 36 after a four-year hiatus in the city. The fair features a robust roster of 120 galleries, non-profit organisations and cultural partners championing the work of emerging artists. Here we highlight some of the eye-catching stands and works, which include a noticeably strong contingent of digital art projects.

Metaverse Petshop (Beta) (2022)
NowHere, New York

One of several projects to incorporate an NFT (non-fungible token) element at the fair this year, this installation by the Japanese art collective Exonemo (made up of the artists Sembo Kensuke and Akaiwa Yae) invites the viewer to “rescue” a virtual pet, releasing it from its cage by scanning a QR code. Pets that are not purchased within 10 minutes morph into new pets, with new AI-generated patterns. Beyond highlighting the increased blurring of the physical and virtual worlds, the ironic work responds to growing worldwide bans on the sale of caged pets, and the ethics of “euthanising” a digital being. The work is being shown in a beta version and will be updated for an exhibition at NowHere in July.

Installation view of works by Jeremy Couillard and Stephen Thorpe at the Denny Dimin Gallery booth. Courtesy Denny Dimin Gallery.

Jeremy Couillard and Stephen Thorpe
Denny Dimin, New York

The British painter Stephen Thorpe and the American digital artist Jeremy Couillard have collaborated to create an environment suggestive of a video game arcade, with Thorpe’s vibrant paintings of arcade games in nature flanking the walls of the booth while Couillard’s video game Fuzz Dungeon streams in video installations at the centre. The game, a mash-up of dystopian images, text and ambient music by the artists Chris Parrello and Lobby Hotel, was previously streamed 24/7 from the basement of the gallery. It is being offered in an unconventional format, as a computer on which the game is downloaded.

Still of Trulee Hall, Two Heads, Two Ways (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Daata.

Trulee Hall, Two Heads, Two Ways (2020)
Daata

A cultural partner of the fair, the online gallery Daata presents a compelling eight-minute video by the multidisciplinary artist Trulee Hall. The work shows a central character who becomes disembodied, multiplies and comes back together, creating a two-headed figure that at times masturbates, kisses itself and meditates. The work is backed by an ominous soundtrack and described as a “narrative where multiple personalities and possibilities of self are visualised via the metaphor and physicality of a two-headed body”, and a “dark monastic fantasy of sex dolls, self-love and the out-of-body experience”. It is being offered as an NFT for $3,000.

Installation view of Elliot Reed’s work at Anonymous Gallery. Courtesy Anonymous Gallery.

Elliot Reed
Anonymous Gallery, New York and Mexico City

One of five solo presentations organised by the curator and dealer Kendra Jayne Patrick, the dramatic booth shows an installation by the New York-based artist and dancer Elliot Reed comprising motorcycles, large speakers, theatre lights and a series of knives embedded in one wall, while a video work and photographs highlight the performative facet of his practice. The conceptual work is a miniaturised version of Reed’s exhibition at the Kunsthaus Glarus in Switzerland last year, which occupied two floors of the institution. The artist has described the visually atmospheric work as “a metaphor”, or an “encounter with an unsolvable problem”.

Installation view of 1-800-Happy Birthday by Even/Odd. Courtesy of Worthlessstudios

1-800-Happy-Birthday (2022)
Worthless Studios, New York

One of the first works visitors see when entering the fair, this installation expands on an ongoing digital project created in 2020 by the art collective Even/Odd to honour Black Americans who have been killed by the police. Standing over 7 ft tall and weighing over 500 pounds, the upcycled phone booth acts as a physical monument for the lives lost. The phone booth plays moving voicemails from relatives and friends of those killed, recalling past birthdays and how they would celebrate if the person were still alive. The work will be expanded into a standalone exhibition at the gallery’s space in Brooklyn in September.


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