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Not long ago, the artist Olive Allen caught our attention when she minted and auctioned a video-format NFT of herself, burning her Russian passport in front of the country’s embassy in New York as a statement against (and means of raising funds for those affected by) the attacks on Ukraine. A pioneer in the NFT scene, the act strayed slightly from Allen’s usual oeuvre, which features a colorful, animated style and the inclusion of recognizable pop culture references.
Allen’s work is currently on view in New York at her debut solo show with Postmasters Gallery. More indicative of the artist’s typical practice, “Welcome to the Metaverse” (on view through May 28) fills all 4,500 square feet of the space with an experiential presentation of sculpture, installations, videos, and NFT works. Using the space to immerse viewers in an experience not unlike a video game, those visiting Postmasters will bear witness to the ways that the integration of these new technologies is reshaping life as we know it.
“Metaverse is not just the popular catchphrase and VC investment thesis, but truly is an escapist dream. A chance for a new life, a chance to restart,” Allen said in a statement. “In this new world you can be anything, gravity does not hold you back. There are seemingly endless possibilities and multitude of paths.”
One of the first digital artists to adhere to the concept of an NFT “drop”—along with holding other “firsts” in the space, like the premier NFT sold at Art Basel in Switzerland—Allen is fueled by an interest in the interactions between society and technology. With this as a starting point, the installation welcomes its viewers as participants in the metaverse, helping them navigate the unfamiliar territory with a format combining tangible art with the virtual. Including creations like the NFT Journey through space & time & data and a larger-than-life figure of a purple bear, the works on view are loaded with subject matter like a search for self in a world of labels, and the posing of the question “Metaverse, but for whom?” in reference to the rush from larger companies toward commodifying Web3 technologies.
“Everyone has a chance to design their world...or it is merely an illusion and metaverse will be run by corporations seeking profits and feeding us entertainment in hopes to sell us products we don’t need. Despite the seriousness of the subject, there is still room for humor and childlike excitement. I choose to believe in the world of unlimited possibilities and curious juxtapositions,” said Allen.