NFT Pioneer Olive Allen Wants to Bring the Art World Into the Metaverse. His Vision Is Not Like Zuckerberg’s

The metaverse is a long and bad concept. It’s also a purple storefront on Franklin Street in New York.

At least that’s the idea behind Olive Allen’s new exhibit at the Postmasters Gallery, which claims to have recreated the Web3 world in the white cube. The title is accompanied by an unfortunate invitation: “Welcome to Metaverse. ”

A collection of new NFTs includes most of the show’s offerings, from pasted digital drawings to animating a lush virtual landscape to multiple avatars designed by artist. This latest group scans as a shipment of Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, and other collectible characters. One has a Furby adorned with streetwear, the other a bull-bear hybrid with arrows in his belly. They look stupid, and that’s the point.

With cheap rink lighting and a glitchy soundtrack, Allen’s exhibit never captures the essence of the metaverse, at least not the utopian vision sold by Mark Zuckerberg and other tech evangelists. But it touches on some of the effects we associate with the word 2022: 90s nostalgia, corporate co-optation, video game aesthetics, the toxic vibes of replicas.

Installation view, Olive Allen, “Welcome to the Metaverse”, Postmasters Gallery, 2022. Photo: Emma Schwartz. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.

The show marks the first solo break for Allen, a young NFT pioneer looking ready to do what some of his crypto art contemporaries have done: build a foundation in the mainstream world of art. A common thread between the two registers of his work: one is a sincere belief in the promises of the blockchain, the other is a sardonic critique of the culture that has developed around it. Whether or not they find it IRL or via URL, the public notices.

Olive did not enter the NFT space with her eyes open and innocent curiosity. His work is important, ”Postmasters co-founder Magda Sawon said of the latest addition to her roster, which has adopted digital art since the late 1980s and includes pioneers like Eva and Franco. Mattes and Kevin and Jennifer and Kevin McCoy. “There’s a good understanding of what’s behind all of this, the pitfalls and dangers we’re seeing in Web 2.0 and the complete corporate takeover of this space.”

This is a New World Olive Allen 2022d lg 1Sailing Without Return (2022). In the goodwill of the Postmasters. ” width = ”1024 length =” 634 srcset = ”https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/05/Its-a-New-World_Olive-Allen_2022d-lg-1-1024 × 634 .jpeg 1024w, https://news.artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/05/Its-a-New-World_Olive-Allen_2022d-lg-1-300×186.jpeg 300w, https:/ /news .artnet.com/app/news-upload/2022/05/Its-a-New-World_Olive-Allen_2022d-lg-1-50 × 31.jpeg 50w ”sizes =” (max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px ” />

Oliver Allen, Journey without return (2022). In good faith of the postmasters.

Born in Russia, Allen immigrated to the United States after 18 about a dozen years ago. She first came to Los Angeles, where she says she learned English by going to parties and doing money modeling on the side. Then came New York, and with it, a greater sense of turmoil. Rent, he explains, is always paid by “returning Supreme merchandise” online. To do this, she mastered fashion strategies to create hype – gimmicks that she would later take advantage of in her artistic practice.

It was also during this time that Allen began creating digital artwork on a tablet, slowly becoming part of the new communities formed around crypto art. He built his own NFT marketplace and social platform, called Decadent, and moved to San Francisco to launch the startup.

Olive Allen,

Installation view, Olive Allen, “Welcome to the Metaverse”, Postmasters Gallery, 2022. Photo: Emma Schwartz. Courtesy of Postmasters Gallery.

The decadent did not prosper, but its failure made another lasting contribution to NFT culture. On Halloween 2019, Allen posted “13 horrible and frustrating articles“, a series of NFT collectible figures that seem to have to be sold on Hot Topic: a neon green alien, a voodoo doll, a” mean “Beanie Baby. The Decadent site crashed when the tokens went live, but with the project the artist introduced the idea of ​​“drop”-a borrowed-from-fashion promotional tool where a limited number of products were introduced in a short period of time-into the world of NFT.

“I’ve always been fascinated by these techniques, which are used by street clothing brands,” Allen said in an interview for super unique. “I understand the mechanics of it. You buy and you come back. It was an adrenaline rush. Achievement unlocked. ”

The ears of the crypto community have grown, especially with Nifty Gateway founders Duncan and Griffin Cock Foster, who consulted Allen as their own NFT platform – which is now a mainstay in space – has formed, one he said. . Allen was included in the site’s second drop in 2020, where he contributed a number of “unbearablea series of teddy bear collectibles that struggle with modern issues: one wrapped in crude oil, the other considered unnecessary by Amazon.

Olive Allen burned her Russian passport outside the Russian Embassy in New York.  Photo credit: NFT Today.

Olive Allen burned her Russian passport outside the Russian Embassy in New York. Described: NFT Today.

Like Sports Cards, his NFTs are offered in “sealed” packs; Buyers have no idea who “I can’t stand it “ they should have gotten. The joy of releasing is a marketing strategy and a way to transform the market for his work. The series sold out quickly.

Since then, Allen’s work has been auctioned off by Christie and SuperRare; it is included in the exhibit König Galerie “THE ARTIST IS ONLINE,and one of his tracks became the first NFT to be sold at an art fair, in Art Basel in 2021. Earlier this year, Allen made headlines when he burned his Russian passport in protest against the invasion of Ukraine in his country of origin. He made an action video as an NFT, auctioned it for 3.66 ETH (about $ 7,500), and donated the proceeds to help children affected by the war in Ukraine.

“If there’s any crypto / NFT artist who deserves a big show right now, he’s it,” Sawon said. “The vision is there.”

Olive Allen: Welcome to the Metaverseavailable through May 28 at Postmasters Gallery, 54 Franklin Street, New York, NY 10013.

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