Over the past few months, it’s been impossible to discuss the art market without mentioning the meteoric rise of non-fungible tokens (for the uninitiated, we wrote a handy guide on the phenomenon). So it’s no surprise that they’re taking center stage at this year’s LA Art Show, the long-running international contemporary art showcase that opens at the Los Angeles Convention Center on July 29. Under the direction of Kasandra Voyagis, the fair seems well-poised to kick off the city’s long-awaited art season with timely programming after a harrowing year of unknowns for in-person events.
Part of the fair’s marquee programming includes a special section dedicated to Vellum LA, the first physical gallery for NFT-backed digital art in Los Angeles ahead of its formal launch in September. The gallery will present “Sea Change,” a physical NFT exhibition in partnership with the online crypto marketplace SuperRare. The works of 12 new media artists—Claudia Hart, Krista Kim, and Marjan Moghaddam, among others—will explore the language, materiality, and logic of the met averse while embracing our inevitable technological immersion. Such themes define Nicole Ruggiero’s Touch Me, which pictures a candy-colored hand reaching through the deconstructed layers of an iPhone. Other works, such as Stream Alleyway by Blake Kathryn, feel more optimistic, rendering a shimmering indoor pool in a technicolor, ‘80s-glam dreamscape.
Another highly anticipated component of this year’s edition is DIVERSEartLA, a fan-favorite section that focuses on the presence of women and nonbinary artists working at the intersection of art, science and technology represented by guest museums and institutions. “DIVERSEartLA will be an examination and a compilation of material, as well as an exhibition featuring the work of women and nonbinary artists who have played a central role in the development of new media practices within art institutions and through history,” says curator Marisa Caichiolo.
Highlights from this year’s edition include Angie Bonino’s The Symphony of Now, a mesmeric audiovisual installation that focuses on Andean techno decolonial shamanism courtesy of the San Marcos Museum of Art in Lima, Peru. The UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center will bring a project curated by Chon Noriega titled Immersive Distancing by local artists Carmen Argote and Zeynep Abes, who will focus on recent media art produced during the pandemic. Perhaps the most unconventional piece in this year’s section comes from the performance artist Tiffany Trenda, who’s bringing live performance to the fair through a viewing experience conducted with a QR code. Attendees can use smartphones to interact with her in real time using volumetric video recording.
Of course, the 2021 roster wouldn’t be complete without longtime participants Arcadia Contemporary, Caldwell Snyder Gallery, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, and Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery. And for those who can’t attend physically, the fair will live-streaming gallerist talks and offering a virtual, in-depth experiences of five participating galleries.