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

Organized by curator Maina Mukherjee, the exhibition features some of South Asia’s cutting edge artists.

Organized by curator Maina Mukherjee, the exhibition features some of South Asia’s cutting edge artists.

Techné Disruptors (II), this month at High Line Nine, New York City’s leading experiential gallery, presents works created with the technologies of our time, including AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), and VR (virtual reality). Holographs and printed collections of Global South NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

From elemental light boxes to complex auto-generative and interactive works, from tantric tribal paintings to interactively created portraits of the ‘self’, from miniature style paintings to highly futuristic pop imagery, the exhibition features some of South Asia’s cutting edge artists. Curated from the NFT collections curated by international curator and cultural producer Maina Mukherjee, ‘Technie Disruptors (II)’ is one of the first art and tech NFT shows from the Global South with a focus on South Asia. The New York City edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival opens with an opening panel titled ‘State of the Contemporary: NFTs and the Global South’. There will also be think tank symposiums in partnership with 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 abstracts:

Curator Maina Mukherjee.

Curator Maina Mukherjee. | Photo credit: Ashish Sharma

How did your journey with NFTs and art begin?

I’ve always been interested in intersections Art And Technology, and in the concept of ‘cultural permanence’. Techne Disruptors’ first outing New Delhi It explains how technology has dominated every aspect of the post-Covid art world. After that, I started an online presence with ‘Queernocopia, Out ‘n’ Proud Abundance from South Asia’, which is India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Iran, and the Philippines. Techne II addresses a possible cultural exchange that does not require the conventions and paperwork of physical travel – to the extent artists are not allowed to speak about queer-related issues in their own countries, they can do so internationally.

Will this interest continue in NFTs?

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 innovatively printed and displayed similar to photographic work.

What were the highlights of this experience?

This is exciting because I see technology as an enabler of existing art forms, not a replacement. The same is the fear when photography enters the artistic arena. Artists are always looking for different ways to express themselves and with the advent of NFTs, they have an extra layer of expression. This particular show is an example of us taking something South Asian and tying it to futurism. Senior artistes like Veer Munshi, Seema Kohli, Amina Ahmed and Ram Rahman did not hold back with their interpretations. Mahula Ghosh worked in the tea estates with a socio-political aspect that stained their lives with poverty. The artist uses tea as a metaphor for that stain.

Painting by Mahula Ghosh.

Painting by Mahula Ghosh. | Photo credit: Special Arrangement

Is everyone calling themselves artists now?

There are already ways to distinguish good art from mediocre art. There is a world of museums and institutions for critics and artists to judge art. It will not suddenly replace these existing benchmarks. Everyone should be allowed to be creative and great art always stands out from the pack; Technology-driven NFTs don’t replace art… they enhance it.

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

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

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