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Art and tech NFT show from Global South Techné Disruptors opens in New York interview with curator Myna Mukherjee

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Put together by curator Myna Mukherjee, the exhibition will feature some of South Asia’s cutting edge artists

Put together by curator Myna Mukherjee, the exhibition will feature some of South Asia’s cutting edge artists

Techné Disruptors (II), an exhibition at New York City’s leading experiential gallery High Line Nine this month, will feature works imagined with technologies of our times, including AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), holographs, and those from minted collections of Global South NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

From elemental light boxes to complex auto-generative and interactive works, from tantric tribal imagery to interactively generated portraits of the ‘self’, from miniature style paintings to highly futuristic pop imagery, the exhibition will feature some of South Asia’s cutting-edge artists. Handpicked from NFT collections put together by international curator and cultural producer Myna Mukherjee, ‘Techné Disruptors (II)’ is one of the first art and tech NFT shows from the Global South with a focus on South Asia. The exhibition will commence with an opening panel for the Jaipur Literature Festival’s New York City edition called ‘State of the Contemporary: NFTs and the Global South’. There will also be thought symposiums with participation from mainstream institutions, including MIT Media Labs, MoMa Web3, and Polygon Studios. Mukherjee, an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University, and a trained Odissi dancer, cultural producer and curator, talks about the show. Edited excerpts:

Curator Myna Mukherjee.
| Photo Credit: Ashish Sharma

How did your journey with NFTs and art begin?

I have always been interested in the intersection of art and technology, and in the notion of ‘cultural perpetuity’. Techné Disruptors’ first outing in New Delhi illustrated how technology primed every aspect of the post-COVID art world. Following that, I embarked on an online presence with ‘Queernocopia, Out ‘n’ Proud Abundance from South Asia’, one of the first South Asian queer art NFT collections that featured voices from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, and the Philippines. Techné II addresses the cultural exchange that is possible, which does not require the conventions and paperwork of physical travel — to the point where artists who would not be allowed to talk of queer-related issues in their own countries, are able to, internationally.

Will this interest in NFTs last?

Currently, digital and tech artworks are being collected by major institutional buyers — which speaks to their longevity. Also, many artists are creating ‘phygital’ works that are sold as NFTs. Digital NFTs can be printed innovatively and displayed in the same way as a photographic work.

What have been the high points of this experience?

It is exciting because I see technology as an enabler of existing art forms, not as a replacement. The same was feared when photography came into the artistic forum. Artists are always looking for different ways to express themselves, and with the advent of NFTs, they’ll have an added layer of expression. This particular show is an example where we take something South Asian and enmesh it with futurism. Senior artists such as Veer Munshi, Seema Kohli, Amina Ahmed, and Ram Rehman have not held back with their interpretations. Mahula Ghosh has worked with the socio-political aspect of the labour of women at the tea estates, where their lives are stained by poverty. The artist uses tea as a metaphor for that stain.

Mahula Ghosh’s painting.

Mahula Ghosh’s painting.
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Does everybody get to call themselves artists now?

There already exist ways of separating good art from mediocre art. There is a world of critics and artist museums and institutions in place to evaluate art. It will not suddenly replace these existing benchmarks. Everyone should be allowed to be creative, and great art will always stand out from the pack; technology-driven NFTs will not replace art… they will simply enhance it.

‘Techné Disruptors’ will be at High Line Nine, New York, from September 12-30, 2022.

The writer is a critic-curator by day, and a creative writer and visual artist by night.



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