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    In Pictures: See Pulp Frontman Jarvis Cocker’s New Gallery Show of Old Marmite Jars, Family Photos, and Odd Memorabilia

    Jarvis Cocker, the British music icon and ex-Pulp frontman, is the subject of an art exhibition in London marking the launch of his new memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop. Mounted at London’s art space, The Gallery of Everything, the show charts the creative development of Pulp through an archive of personal objects Cocker excavated from an old loft.
    On view through May 29, the exhibition is split across two floors, with the upstairs dedicated to an archive of mementos and ephemera that Cocker decodes in his own “Periodic Table of Influence,” from an old jar of Marmite dating to the 1980s—a rare treasure because it has one of the original metal lids before the company traded them in for plastic—to a star-emblazoned sweater, apparently all the rage in fashion before punk became a thing.
    “If it could be represented in visual terms, the contents of my brain would probably resemble the contents of this loft: a jumble of things with no one factor in dominance—it’s the mix that’s important,” Cocker said in a statement. “Seemingly inconsequential items can end up having long-term effects if added to the mix in the right quantities.”
    It takes a certain type of constitution to squirrel away a personal archive such as this (there’s even a super vintage pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum in there) with the belief that it might be of interest to a wider public at some point. And indeed, the future rock star’s young ambitions are evident in an old exercise book, in which a teenaged Cocker charted in great detail (and with illustrations) his band’s trajectory to world domination, calling it “The Pulp Master Plan.”
    Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop—The Exhibition” at The Gallery of Everything. Photo: ©David Owens.
    My favorite part of the show is a collection of broken eye glasses, something I confessed to Cocker I also have lying around in a box somewhere, unable for some reason to part ways with them. “It’s hard to throw something out that you’ve been wearing on your face for so long,” Cocker said. “It would be like throwing away a part of your face, so I get that.”
    Downstairs, Cocker’s family history is exhibited through Ektachrome photographs taken by his grandfather Hugh Hoyland, and a partial reconstruction of Cocker’s childhood bedroom where he taught himself how to write songs. The installation includes Pulp posters and lyrics from the Cocker Archive, as well as the key instruments in the band’s development: Cocker’s Hopf guitar, which was a Christmas gift from his mother’s scuba-diving instructor boyfriend; an In Tensai Rhythm Machine radio cassette player, featuring a built in drum machine; and a Yamaha PortaSound PS-400 home keyboard. All three were brought to life in an intimate performance in the space by Cocker and collaborator Chilly Gonzalez. 
    The gallery is also selling editioned prints of Cocker’s sketches and drawings, priced at £250 ($315), as well as color prints of his grandfather’s photographs, priced at £350 ($441) and a poster of the Periodic Table of Influences. Proceeds from sales go to support The Museum of Everything, a nonprofit itinerant institution for art.
    “Good Pop, Bad Pop—The Exhibition” is on view through May 29 at The Gallery of Everything, London. Jarvis Cocker’s memoir, Good Pop, Bad Pop, is published by Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Penguin Books.
    Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez performing at The Gallery of Everything. Photo: ©David Owens.
    People lining up for Jarvis Cocker’s impromptu performance at The Gallery of Everything, Chiltern Street. Photo: ©David Owens.
    Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop—The Exhibition” at The Gallery of Everything. Photo: ©David Owens.
    Jarvis Cocker, “Good Pop, Bad Pop—The Exhibition” at The Gallery of Everything. Photo: ©David Owens.
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    African Nations Are More Present at the Venice Biennale Than Ever—But Not Always on Their Own Terms

    One week before the 59th Venice Biennale was due to open this spring, Jimmy Ogonga, the curator of the Kenya Pavilion, still hadn’t received funding from Kenya’s ministry of culture.
    It was the second time Ogonga had staged a pavilion for his home country, taking over after two scandalous editions in 2013 and 2015 in which Kenyan artists were all but left out. Ogonga was determined to correct the record and present an exhibition showcasing work by Kenyan artists that spoke directly to the socio-cultural and political issues they face.
    “It is the Olympics of the art world,” Ogonga told Artnet News. “A country like ours plays a big role in the Olympics. We have some of the most amazing runners in the world. When we go to Venice, we don’t need to break records or win the Golden Lion, but we need to be there so we can be present with the rest.”
    Though African countries have been increasingly visible in Venice in recent years, several national pavilions have been beset by lack of funding and local criticism of curatorial choices.
    Over the past decade, prices for modern and contemporary art from the African continent have skyrocketed, making the category one of the fastest growing in the market. One could say there has been an African art Renaissance of sorts—but why has this not been felt with the same force at the Venice Biennale?
    “So far, Africa’s representation on a national level in Venice has been a mess,” Cameroonian curator Simon Njami told Artnet News. “The nations have not understood that art can be a soft and efficient political tool.”
    Artist Kaloki Nyama with his work at the Kenyan Pavilion,, “Exercises in Conversation,” at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Photo: Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia.
    The Case of Kenya
    Ogonga said this year’s pavilion, which included artists Dickens Otieno, Wanja Kimani, and Kaloki Nyamai, has been the nation’s most successful to date. “The Kenyan art scene has worked with its government in a mutual and non-combative way,” he said.
    During Kenya’s debut in 2013 and then in 2015, a couple of Italian curators presented exhibitions dominated by Chinese and Italian artists. After its second showing in 2015, several prominent Kenyan artists protested, demanding that the government provide them proper representation in Venice. It worked—and the exhibition was publicly disowned by the Kenyan government. In 2016, Ogonga was appointed to set in place a roadmap for how to present Kenya and its artists in Venice.
    “There was a complete lack of synchronicity between what was shown in Venice and what the art scene in Nairobi was trying to do,” Ogonga said. He added that the history of the art scene in Kenya has been riddled with problems, including how its artists are treated and represented internationally. Part of the issue stems from a lack of art infrastructure, an issue shared by many other nations around the globe: Kenya has no national arts council, no national gallery, and poorly funded art schools.
    This is what often leads to foreign players taking over national pavilions on their behalf, Ogonga said. He noted that while outside proposals may sound legitimate at first, they have, in some instances, turned out to be “self-serving” initiatives.
    Ghana Pavilion, Arsenale, Venice Biennale 2022. Photo: David Levene.
    Beset by Challenges
    All told, this year, only nine African nations—Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, and Egypt—were present at the Venice Biennale. While the number is certainly an increase from previous years, it is by no means representative of the breadth and diversity of 54 countries’ artistic cultures.
    It is even less representative when the art of those few African nations present has been metaphorically hijacked by foreigners using national pavilions in Venice for their own gain, as some nations, like Kenya, have claimed.
    A related discussion surrounded Namibia’s inaugural pavilion this year. Italian Marco Furio Ferrario curated his first-ever art show with the work of a white Namibian man born in Johannesburg, South Africa; the selection prompted outrage from the Namibian and international art communities.
    Cameroon, which also made its debut this year in Venice, saw its pavilion co-curated by Sandro Orlandi Stagl, who was behind Kenya’s embattled 2015 presentation. The project has two locations: one, an NFT exhibition organized by Global Crypto Art DAO, features the work of 20 artists—not one is Cameroonian. The second presents work by four Cameroonian artists and four international artists.
    Meanwhile, Ghana, which made a splash at its debut in 2019, had no government funding this year, meaning that its curator, Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, had to procure the funds herself.
    Challenges persisted when this year’s Egyptian pavilion curiously remained closed during the Biennale’s opening days. It presented an installation of giant pink balloons and digital works called “an artificial intelligence media installation” by Egyptian artists Mohamed Shoukry, Weaam El Masry, and Ahmed El Shaer. A prominent member of the Egyptian art scene said the closure was due to “technical difficulties,” but Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr, who represented Egypt at Venice Biennale in 2017, told Artnet News that when he showed five years ago, the ministry had not allocated a budget to pay docents to man the pavilion. 
    “I think Egypt should stop participating in the Biennale for a while until we renew the interior of the art scene inside the country,” Nasr told Artnet News.
    Angéle Etoundi Essamba at the Pavilion of Cameroon “Il tempo delle Chimere/The Time of the Chimeras.” Photo: Andrea Avezzù. Courtesy: La Biennale di Venezia.
    Returns on Investment
    While some could criticize the Biennale itself for not having a more thorough screening process, African ministries of culture also have a role to play in ensuring their country is properly represented (they must, after all, ratify their own national pavilions). Most states do not invest enough in art and when nations refuse to get involved, the private sector takes over. 
    “The investment needed to stage a national pavilion is huge and many of these countries need to invest first and foremost in public art engagement and support at home,” Hannah O’Leary, head of modern and contemporary African art at Sotheby’s, told Artnet News. She noted that the art market must be included in these considerations. “Very few artists from Africa are represented by blue-chip galleries who can provide them major financial and marketing support to participate in the Venice Biennale, safe in the knowledge that significant sales will follow at Art Basel and beyond.”
    O’Leary further noted that, while we are seeing a marked improvement in the market for art from Africa over the past decade, “the fact remains that the vast majority of artists and galleries based in Africa sell at price points that do not justify that sort of investment.”
    African curators like Simon Njami believe the solution lies in nations believing in the power and need for a national art program. “As long as African nations don’t have a consciousness of the importance of the Venice Biennale, then Africa won’t be well represented,” he said, adding that it costs around $300,000 to $500,000 to participate. “What does that represent in the national budget of a state, even the poorest? Peanuts. We need to build the infrastructure and the dialogue at home.”
    The Egypt pavilion, represented by the artists Islam Abdullah, Ahmed Chiha, Ahmed Abdel Karim, during press previews for the 58th International Art Biennale on May 08, 2019 in Venice, Italy. Photo: Stefano Mazzola/Awakening/Getty Images.
    A Brief History of Africa in Venice
    The issues that have come up in recent years are not new. Though Africa has actually been present at the Biennale since the 1920s, the show has never reflected the full diversity and strength of the continent’s cultural production—especially in the years before and just after decolonization began. An exception was Egypt, which in 1952 established the first permanent—and to this day, only—African pavilion in the Giardini. South Africa debuted at the Venice Biennale in 1950, participating during the following two decades until anti-apartheid protests led to its exclusion.
    During the 1960s and ’70s, the issue of independence was often the main preoccupation of African countries and their artists, so it is not entirely surprising that they rarely appeared in international art events until the 1980s. Over the years, Africa’s lack of national pavilions was partially made up for by collateral projects: In 1999, the creation of the African Art in Venice Forum led to the implementation of an exhibition program devoted to contemporary African art.
    In 2007, Robert Storr, curator of that year’s biennale, proposed that an African pavilion be created. His idea sparked outrage—how could an entire continent be represented by a single pavilion? The late Congolese collector Sindika Dokolo took up the idea and funded the project, yet the pavilion remained controversial as it largely presented his personal holdings. 
    Some years later, a big win came when, in 2013, Angola’s debut participation garnered it the prestigious Golden Lion Award for best national pavilion. Other participating African nations across Venice—which at the time included South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Kenya—celebrated in unison.
    Installation view, “Radiance – They Dream in Time,” 2022 Uganda Pavilion. Photo: Francesco Allegretto
    The Victories
    This year’s biennale marked successes for Africa, too. Uganda’s debut, a sleekly curated show by Shaheen Merali, featured Ugandan multidisciplinary performance and installation artist Acaye Kerunen and painter Collin Sekajugo. It was awarded a special mention for the Golden Lion.
    “The Milk of Dreams,” the Venice Biennale’s central exhibition, also offered a strong showing of artists from the continent. Of the 213 artists from 58 countries invited by Cecilia Alemani, 12 represent the African continent. Notable were the dreamy large-than-life paintings of Zimbabwean Portia Zvavahera, which pair her emotional life with the spiritualism of indigenous Zimbabwean and Apostolic Pentecostalist beliefs of her upbringing. Ethiopian Elias Sime presented vibrant abstractions made from fragments of computer wire and electrical debris.
    “It has been very important throughout the process of organizing this exhibition to meet artists and cultural practitioners from the African continent,” Alemani, who did much of her research and studio visits remotely, told Artnet News. She worked with three advisors from Africa—Nontobeko Ntombela, Kwasi Ohene-Ayeh, and Marie Hélène Pereira—who helped research and recommend artists. Alemani said she was particularly pleased to showcase work by three emerging talents from Southern Africa—Igshaan Adams and Bronwyn Katz from South Africa and Zvavahera from Zimbabwe.
    Some, however, believe Biennale organizers and curators in general need to invest more in discovering global art scenes, including that of Africa, to bring more balanced representation to these international events.
    “In this edition in particular, it is more than manifest that virtually every African artist included had been exhibited at Frieze London and or at Art Basel in the previous year, and less than half of those African-born artists in the exhibition live and work on the continent,” Valerie Kabokov, director of First Floor Gallery Harare, in Zimbabwe, told Artnet News. “If Venice is to be a genuine pulse-taking of contemporary art around the world, something has to change.”
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    In Pictures: See Gilded Manuscripts That Span 1,500 Years in a New London Exhibition About Gold and the Written Word

    Whoever said you can’t judge a book by its cover never had the experience of beholding a truly illuminated manuscript, adorned with (no small amount) of solid gold. A new exhibition at the British Library in London—titled, simply, “Gold”—brings together a selection of 50 gilded books, scrolls, and documents drawn from 20 countries and spanning 1,500 years.
    The objects on display literally radiate, and beyond being important texts—both religious and political treatises are on display—they are awe-inspiring in and of themselves. Even the word for the art of writing in gold, “chrysography,” sounds like an incantation.
    The variation in size and technique is also impressive, ranging from a narrow strip of solid gold measuring more than 6.5 feet long inscribed with a treaty between the Zamorin of Calicut and the Dutch dating to the 17th century. It is only on close inspection that you can actually make out the script, written in the Dravidian language of Malayalam—but there it is, etched in solid gold.
    There is also a 13th century Quran bound in deep red leather with the earliest known example of gold tooling, and the Queen Mary Psalter from the 14th century, one of the most extensively illustrated and gold-detailed biblical manuscripts of all time.
    “For centuries, gold has been fundamental to makers across the world for embellishing the written word,” the show’s co-curator Eleanor Jackson said in a statement. “Many of these objects were originally owned by royalty, and they would have been seen by only a select few. We are so pleased to be able to bring them together on public display for everyone to enjoy.”
    Below, see more objects from “Gold: Spectacular Manuscripts from Around the World” on view at the British Library through October 2, 2022. 
    Treaty between Calicut and the Dutch inscribed in Malayalam on a strip of gold over two metres long, India, (1691). Courtesy of the British Library.
    The Harley Golden Gospels, Carolingian Empire, (ca. 800). Courtesy of the British Library.
    The Golden Haggadah, Northern Spain, (ca. 1320). Courtesy of the British Library.
    A rare copy of the Lotus Sutra in a lavishly decorated scroll with gold and silver ink, Japan (ca. 1636). Courtesy of the British Library.
    Charter and Gold seal of Emperor Baldwin II, Netherlands, (1269). Courtesy of the British Library.
    Quran containing the earliest known example of gold tooling on a leather binding, Morocco, (1256). Courtesy of the British Library.
    A tiny octagonal Quran from Persia bound with gold and contained in a jade case, 1(6th or 17th century). Courtesy of the British Library.
    The Queen Mary Psalter, London, (early 14th century). Courtesy of the British Library.
    Kinzan emaki illustrated scroll of gold mines, Japan, (ca. 1810-1820). Courtesy of the British Library.
    Gold seal of Emperor Baldwin II Netherlands (1269). Courtesy of the British Library.
    Illuminated tughra or name of the Ottoman sultan at the top of a land grant, Romania (1628). Courtesy of the British Library.
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    In Pictures: Anselm Kiefer Marks Venice’s 1,600th Anniversary With a Startling Vision of Ice and Fire

    An Anselm Kiefer at the iconic Palazzo Ducale in Venice reimagines La Serenissima’s centuries-long history, and in particular focuses on a fire that ravaged the floating city in 1577 and severely damaged the palace.
    In one work, Kiefer depicts Piazza San Marco engulfed in flames; in another, the city is frozen; another still depicts the empty casket of St. Mark, Venice’s patron saint. 
    “Kiefer’s work arises from the past, from the fire which erased its memory, and out of the destruction caused new ones to grow,” the show’s curator, Gabriella Belli, the director of the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
    The show, titled “Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (These Writings, When Burned, Will Finally Give Some Light),” marks the city’s 1,600th anniversary. It includes 14 works made of materials including zinc, lead, gold, clothing, and even parts of shopping carts, that the artist made during the pandemic. 
    Altogether, the series explores themes like decay, memory, and creation. 
    The paintings, also inspired in part by the Italian philosopher Andrea Emo (1901–1983), are temporarily affixed over frescoes by Tintoretto and Jacobo Palma the Younger, acting like “a layer of contemporary history over the ancient,” Belli said.
    See more images from the show below.
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    Anselm Kiefer, Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (Andrea Emo) (2022), installation view. © Anselm Kiefer. Photo: Anselm Kiefer. Courtesy Gagosian and Fondazione Musei Civici Venezia
    “Anselm Kiefer: Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce” is on view at the Palazzo Ducale in Venice, Italy through October 29, 2022. 
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    C-C-Cool New Shhhhhhhhow? London’s Design Museum Hosts the World’s First Exhibition Dedicated to ASMR

    A sedative tingling feeling that slowly forms on the scalp, prickling as it descends its way over the entire body before finally becoming an immersive physical experience that collapses the acoustic and visual environments into an all-encompassing sensorial climax. 
    No, this isn’t an orgasm, it’s a new exhibition looking at those who experience ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. 
    Tobias Bradford, That Feeling / Immeasurable Thirst (2021). Ed Reeve for Design Museum.
    “Weird Sensation Feels Good: The World of ASMR,” which features artists as diverse as Björk and Bob Ross, looks at how this phenomenon, experienced by millions of people online, including through a number of wildly popular TikTok accounts, can be turned into a physical, immersive exhibition of art and design. 
    Now open at the Design Museum in London, the exhibition features a cornucopia of sublime experiences designed to mimic the multi-sensory world of ASMR. 
    Bob Ross, Morning Mist (1985). Ed Reeve for Design Museum.
    From a 1988 clip of Björk eloquently describing how television works, to a wall-mounted installation of a mechanical tongue laced with synthetic saliva by Tobias Bradford, to the idyllic videos of the late Bob Ross calmly discussing the finer points of painting, the exhibition begs viewers to take a closer look at intimacy.
    As viewers enter the expansive, womb-like exhibition, their first encounter is with a glossary of terms designed to educate the uninitiated.
    The wall text defines terms like ASMRtist (someone who creates works of ASMR), frisson (the sensation of “aesthetic chills”), and misophonia (denoting one who is emotionally affected by common sounds like breathing or chewing), before finally moving into a tactile environment that features everything from poetry to installation to industrial design and furniture. 
    In total, it features over a dozen artists whose works have been assembled by curator James Taylor-Foster of ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, who became interested in making the exhibition after noticing the immense cultural impact the movement had online. 
    “Ultimately, ASMR is a community,” Taylor-Foster told British Vogue. “[It’s a] cultural field, site of imagination, and a form of design in a broader sense. It’s risen out of a world of speed and anxiety, proving slowness is important and provides an intimacy that’s needed.”
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    NFT Pioneer Olive Allen Wants to Introduce the Art World to the Metaverse. Her Vision of the Future Looks Nothing Like Zuckerberg’s

    The metaverse is a lofty, nebulous concept. It’s also a violet-colored storefront on Franklin Street in New York. 
    At least that’s the idea behind Olive Allen’s new exhibition at Postmasters Gallery, which purports to recreate the Web3 world within the white cube. The title doubles as an ominous invitation: ​​”Welcome to the Metaverse.”
    A collection of new NFTs comprises most of the show’s offerings, ranging from collaged digital paintings to an animation of a lush virtual landscape to several artist-designed avatars. The latter bunch scan as send-up of Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, and other collectible characters. One features a Furby decked out in streetwear, another a bull-bear hybrid with market chart arrows on its belly. They look inane, and that’s the point.
    With its cheap, roller-rink lighting and glitchy soundtrack, Allen’s exhibition doesn’t actually capture the essence of the metaverse—at least not the utopian vision peddled by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech evangelists. But it does get at some of the affects we associate with the word in 2022: ‘90s nostalgia, corporate co-optation, video-game aesthetics, venomous reply-guy vibes. 
    Installation view, Olive Allen, “Welcome to the Metaverse,” Postmasters Gallery, 2022. Photo: Emma Schwartz. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.
    The show marks the first solo outing for Allen, a young NFT pioneer who appears poised to do what few of her crypto-art contemporaries have done: establish a foothold in the traditional art world. A pixel-thin thread runs between the two registers of her work: one a sincere belief in the promises of blockchain, the other a sardonic critique of the culture that’s risen around it. Whether or not they found it IRL or via URL, audiences have taken note. 
    “Olive doesn’t go into the NFT space with wide-open eyes and innocent fascination. There’s a criticality to her work,” said Postmasters cofounder Magda Sawon of the newest addition to her roster, which has embraced digital art since the late 1980s and includes such trailblazers as Eva and Franco Mattes and Kevin and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. “There’s a strong understanding of what lies underneath it all, of the pitfalls and dangers that we see with Web 2.0 and the complete corporate takeover of that space.”
    Olive Allen, No-Return Journey (2022). Courtesy of Postmasters.
    Born in Russia, Allen immigrated to the U.S. after turning 18 roughly a dozen years ago. First she came Los Angeles, where she says she learned English by going to parties and made money by modeling on the side. Then came New York, and with it, a greater sense of hustle. Rent, she explained, was often paid by “flipping Supreme merch” online. To do that, she mastered fashion’s strategies for manufacturing hype—gimmicks she would later exploit in her art practice. 
    It was around this time, too, that Allen began making digital artworks on a tablet, slowly ingratiating herself into the then-nascent communities forming around crypto art. She founded her own NFT marketplace and social platform, called Decadent, and moved to San Francisco to get the startup off the ground. 
    Installation view, Olive Allen, “Welcome to the Metaverse,” Postmasters Gallery, 2022. Photo: Emma Schwartz. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.
    Decadent did not flourish, but in its failure came other lasting contributions to the NFT culture. On Halloween 2019, Allen released “13 Dreadful and Disappointing Items,” a series of collectible NFT figures that looked as though they should be sold at Hot Topic: a neon-green alien, a voodoo doll, a “meanie” Beanie Baby. Decadent’s site crashed as the tokens went live, but with the project, the artist introduced the idea of the “drop”—a promotion tool borrowed from fashion in which limited quantities of product are introduced in a short window of time—to the NFT world.
    “I’ve always been fascinated by those techniques, utilized by streetwear brands,” Allen said in an interview for SuperRare. “I understand the mechanics of it. You buy and you flip. It’s an adrenaline rush. Achievement unlocked.”
    The crypto community’s ears pricked up, particularly the founders of Nifty Gateway, Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, who consulted with Allen as their own NFT platform—now a mainstay in the space—took shape, she said. Allen was included in the site’s second-ever drop in 2020, for which she contributed several “UnBearables,” a series of teddy bear collectibles battling distinctly modern problems: one is covered in crude oil, another is deemed nonessential by Amazon. 
    Olive Allen burning her Russian passport in front of the Russian embassy in New York. Photo: NFT Now.
    Like sports cards, her NFTs were offered up in “sealed” packs; buyers had no idea which “UnBearables” they were going to get. Gamifying the release was both a marketing ploy and a means of subverting the market around her work. The series promptly sold out. 
    Since then, Allen’s work has been auctioned at Christie’s and on SuperRare; she was included in König Galerie’s exhibition “THE ARTIST IS ONLINE,” and a piece of hers became the first NFT sold at an art fair, at Art Basel in 2021. Earlier this year, Allen made headlines when she burned her Russian passport to protest her home country’s invasion of Ukraine. She minted a video of the act as NFT, auctioned it off for 3.66 ETH (about $7,500), and donated the proceeds to help Ukrainian children affected by the war.
    “If any artist from the crypto/NFT space deserves a huge show right now, it’s her,” said Sawon. “The vision is there.”
    “Olive Allen: Welcome to the Metaverse” is on view now through May 28 at Postmasters Gallery, 54 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013. 
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    Feeling Overwhelmed Ahead of London Gallery Weekend? Here Are 3 Tips to Help You Navigate the Mammoth Event

    This weekend marks the second edition of London Gallery Weekend, a city-wide spree of openings at 150 galleries across town. The largest of its kind, the decentralized event gives a snapshot of what is happening in the art world, from blue chip big hitters to emerging talents at non-profit spaces. The catch: it is enormous! To help you out, we broke down how to navigate your way around the city this weekend and what highlights to look out for.
    London’s galleries exist in pockets across its many neighborhoods—so don’t wander. Map it out.

    Follow one of the curated routes on London Gallery Weekend’s website: film star Naomi Harris, pop musician-turned-artist Robbie Williams, and designer Simone Rocha have shared their plans as a guide. One of Rocha’s picks is Rhea Dillon’s series of sculptures at Soft Opening at Bethnal Green—we second this.
    Start at your furthest destination and work your way back to where you’re based. Are you staying in Mayfair? In that case, cross the river and head to Corvi-Mora to see new paintings by Ethiopian artist Jem Perucchini; work your way home via Fitzrovia for Nicola L. at Alison Jaques. Don’t miss Addis Fine Art, which is showing artist Nigatu Tsehay, and Arcadia Missa‘s exhibition of Melike Kara. Take you time to see Hauser & Wirth‘s two shows by legends Luchita Hurtado and Larry Bell.
    Keep an eye on your watch! Events like Mandy El-Sayegh’s performances take place at specific times at 2pm at Peckham Library on Saturday and at 2pm at Allen Gardens on Sunday there of her work The Minimum. El-Sayegh, who recently joined Thaddaeus Ropac, will be doing three performances in total.
    Artlogic’s map tool, which allows you to sort your route by filtering and pinning destinations and then downloading the plan onto your phone, is a fantastic way to make the weekend manageable.

    your words will be used against you by Mandy El-Sayegh at Frieze Live 2020. Courtesy Frieze London.
    Seek out discoveries and emerging artists across London’s dynamic landscape of smaller galleries.

    The inaugural Artlogic Young & Emerging Gallery Initiative is focusing on new, interesting spaces in the capital. Gossamer Fog, for example, is a new space founded in 2021 in Depford South East London. The gallery, which is focused on “creative technologies and new media methodologies” including VR and gaming, will open a show of Rustan Söderling.
    Sadie Coles HQ is hosting four galleries from India this year: Vadehra Art Gallery, Kolkata’s Experimenter, Jhaveri Contemporary, and Chemould Prescott Road will take over its Mayfair space in a collaborative show called “Conversations on Tomorrow”. This is great chance to see work by Mrinalini Mukherjee whose work drew gasps in “The Milk of Dreams” at the Venice Biennale.
    Head to the far-flung corners of the city that are still up-and-coming. Get on the overground to South East London to take a look South Parade, a new project space showing Ukrainian artist Siggi Sekira’s “Parties to Cover the Silence.” After that, head to the edgy Harlesden High Street in the North West for Wawazin Al-Otaibi’s “Soft Whispers.”

    Plan your route to catch some of Gallery Weekend’s screenings and performances.

    Head to Piccadilly on Sunday at 2 p.m. to catch art films on the legendary huge screen with Circa.art:  enjoy works by Caroline Walker and Ghada Amer, among others. Walker’s portraits of domesticity and motherhood are especially poignant, and Amer’s erotic embroidery is both aesthetic and political.
    Selfridges on Oxford Street also has a film program screening, and tickets are free (you need to book via their website). Participating artists include duo Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, as well as Prem Sahib and TJ Wilcox.
    Multidisciplinary artist Lonnie Holley will be performing The Edge of What at Stone Nest on Shaftesbury Avenue at 9 p.m. n Saturday May 14 in a collaboration with Artangel. To create this experimental sound work the Alabama artist travelled to Orford Ness, an atmospheric peninsula on the North Sea in Suffolk.

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    In Pictures: See How Artist and Instagram Sensation Cj Hendry Transformed a London Church Into a Botanical Wonderland

    Just minutes away from the hustle and bustle of a busy East London road, a moment of serenity awaits those curious enough to step inside a humble 19th-century church, where they will find cascades of white petals falling gently from the ceiling. 
    The joyful feat is the work of artist and Instagram sensation Cj Hendry, who has transformed the space into a magical world of dappled sunlight for her first exhibition in the U.K. capital. With the church setting and rows of candles, it feels just like something out of Harry Potter (the artist is a fan).
    Called “Epilogue,” the show includes 30 new drawings of flowers in Hendry’s signature hyper-realistic style. So persuasive is the visual trickery of the drawings that one visitor was heard remarking to the artist during the private view: “I love your photographs.”
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,”  the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    The new body of work is a monochromatic black-and-white affair, a much more muted palette than we are familiar with from the artist whose bright trompe l’oeil drawings have consistently captivated the internet. The drawings are joined by a suite of delicate flower sculptures.
    While the new works do have a serenity to them, which is certainly not hurt by the setting, the effect is somewhat melancholic. That is intentional. Evoking the ephemeral nature of beauty, the artist draws attention to the fact that she is capturing cut flowers on the verge of withering and decay. 
    “It’s natural, at this time in the world, that this series be concerned with the provocation of time, death and decay,” Hendry said. “We treasure flowers for their fleeting beauty. Countless artists have depicted flowers in full bloom, but few have portrayed them as they begin to wither and shed their petals. To me, this is where the beauty lies, and ‘Epilogue’ is a memorial to them and a reminder that nothing lasts forever.”
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    The ephemeral nature of the exhibition itself (which will run for just 10 days) offers a stark contrast to the meticulous and time-consuming process of composing the images; even the smaller-scale works can take as many as 80 hours to complete.
    In preparation for the exhibition, Hendry’s team invested in renovating the church, which had fallen into disrepair in the 1960s, and it will be returned to the community after the show’s run. While the artist was formally trained as an architect, she told Artnet News at the opening that she left the repair work up to true professionals, confessing: “I was a terrible architect.”
    The exhibition has been made most memorable by the millions of paper petals, amounting to around 10 tonnes of confetti, that are set up to continuously fall from the church ceiling for the duration of the ten-day exhibition. They blanket the floor beneath her drawings, which pull reference points from 17th-century Dutch still-life paintings and the Pop art of Andy Warhol. See images of the stunning exhibition below.
    “Cj Hendry: Epilogue” is on view at New Testament Church of God, London E3 5AA, through May 22.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
    A general view of the opening of “Epilogue,” the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York-based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London. Photo: courtesy of Cj Hendry.
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