Light shines on Business Art exhibition by Metastoric.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Foundry, the hybrid, progressive art space in Downtown Dubai, hosted its first exhibition to herald this year’s art season, by launching Business Art by Metastoric (Jan. 17 – Feb. 25). Metastoric is a new initiative working at the intersection of contemporary art and cryptocurrency that links art objects with NFTs to create disruptive exhibitions and immersive experiences. Addressing the entanglements of art, life and business within the contemporary, Business Art dealt with the NFTs as a medium. The artworks, ranging from sculptures to videos, paintings, drawings, and found objects, were linked with NFTs minted on OpenSea — which dropped the night of the opening and remained available for the duration of the exhibition. Curated by the anonymous artist known as Prestige Villain, Business Art brought together international and UAE-based artists, including Mays Albaik, Mona Ayyash, Ghada Da, Dana Dawud, Rami Farook, MG, Mohamed Khalid, Satwa 3000, and Nada Zanhour.
Their work appeared alongside contributions by Oona Chanel, publisher of Author magazine; Sanaz Askari, founder and curator of The Mine; and Bitcoin historian Elias Ahonen. The prices of the NFTs ranged widely — with the most expensive, entitled Sanaz’s Sweat, listed at 777 ETH (approximately 2.5 million USD at the time of the event).
Here is more info on the “dramartis personae”:
Prestige Villain is an anonymous curator, fragrance connoisseur, and non-digital avatar; Dana Dawud is a visual artist and independent researcher based in Dubai, who works through different mediums including sound production, podcasts and digital painting and Elias Ahonen is a Finnish-Canadian author, based in Dubai who has lived and worked around the world while operating a blockchain consultancy. Maxime Cramatte is a Dubai based artist. His aesthetic emerges from the side streets of old Dubai, where he lives and finds a source of inspiration.
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Rami Farook is an interdisciplinary artist and producer based in Dubai. Since 2002, he has been creating, curating, publishing, collaborating, supporting, and representing. He is also Founder and Director of Traffic, gallery, studio and art centre.
Oona Chanel is a serial entrepreneur in the luxury industry. After a successful career as an international model who worked and consulted with most European fashion houses as well as luxury and mass-market beauty brands, she founded Author Media. Author is the industry insider’s go-to guide, purchased by established Art Collectors, CEOs and designers and is considered the collectable object for many people in luxury design and fashion.
A view of Business Art exhibition at Foundry.
Khalid (MK) examines the materiality of everyday objects and dissects ironies embedded in his everyday surroundings. MG is a self-taught painter from Singapore. She engages with contemporary social issues and phenomena and explores such themes as gender and sexuality, family dynamics and inequalities of wealth and power. She has lived in Dubai since 2016. Mays Albaik is a Palestinian artist with a visual practice triangulating body, language, and place. Her early practice developed out of the oral narration of her family’s history, the story of her grandfather’s exile from Palestine, and the winding path through geopolitical and cultural landscapes that led to where she is now: a non-citizen resident of her country of birth. She was born in 1991 in Abu Dhabi, and lives and works there.
Azrael is an anonymous trio consolidated under one name; The Mine, founded by Sanaz Askari, is an independent commissioning foundation that connects artists to art fairs, collectors and galleries, while Zanhour’s work explores the various dynamics at work within societies – culture, media and their technologies and the self and the Other.
DESTABILIZED is an independent music collective of avatars, emerged from the Metaverse. Their cyberpunk aesthetic is influenced by gaming, cinema and digital art.
To open and close the exhibition, the Metastoric community gathered for a yacht event with the Business Art artists, collectors and gallerists. “Metastoric recognises the growing need for utility in the NFT world; for every Business Art NFT sold, the collector received a ticket to enter one of the exclusive yacht networking events,” says Jodie Marie Rigby, Founder, Metastoric. On February 22, a panel discussion on the connection between the Metaverse and the Subconscious Mind was hosted. Moderated by Isaac Sullivan, it featured Nikki Evans (Mind Health School); Oona Chanel; Dana Dawud; and MG. Participants discussed their respective practices and artworks; reflected upon the contemporary status of the subconscious mind; examined the incipient effects of Web3; and explored the shifting status of the unconscious, across past, present and future. The panel also considered Metastoric’s charity element to the business, where 5 per cent of profits are being donated to produce a NLP Neuro Linguistic Programming (mental wellbeing programme), to support artists, entrepreneurs and people in need. Metastoric was founded in 2021 by British, Dubai-based entrepreneur Rigby, who has identified new possibilities in backing NFTs with physical assets; she is joined by co-founder Lucy Brattan, formerly of the online marketplace Jumia Group; she specialises in investment. For the future, Metastoric will continue the Business Art exhibition tour to new countries exhibiting at NFT LA VIP afterparty and NFT Dubai; it is also planning to take the exhibition into the Metaverse. Rigby and Brattan will curate the local pod within NFT Dubai launching May. (NFT Dubai launches a second larger event in October in Dubai). Artists from the Business Art exhibition will be selected to exhibit in both shows including Prestige Villain, Satwa 3000, Dana Dawud, Elias Ahonen, MG, Destabilizers and Azrael.