Many know WeTransfer as the handy file-sharing service; fewer are familiar with the tech giant’s four-year-old digital arts platform, WePresent, which brings a diverse group of vanguard creators across photography, film, music, illustration, and literature to WeTransfer’s sizable audience of 87 million monthly users. Besides securing high-profile collaborations with FKA Twigs and Lisa Taddeo, WePresent editor in chief Holly Fraser recently earned the platform its first Oscar for director Aneil Karia’s “The Long Goodbye,” a short film that accompanied Riz Ahmed’s 2020 album of the same name.
Now, WePresent is heralding its next chapter with a redesign, a year-long partnership with Solange Knowles, and new one-off commissions with artist-activist Ai Weiwei and bestselling novelist Megan Nolan. Developed with the creative agency Bureau for Visual Affairs, the site is introducing functionalities such as an audio player for longform storytelling and a highlight reel that condenses written pieces into key takeaways for on-the-go reading. Contributions so far include Ai Weiwei’s manifesto sharing messages of freedom and Nolan’s essay about our relationship with social media.
Knowles will succeed Marina Abramovic as the platform’s first guest curator. Over the next year, she’ll spotlight four creatives—designer Dozie Kanu, photographer Elliott Jerome Brown Jr., and interdisciplinary artists Autumn Knight and Jacolby Satterwhite—through a digital exhibition on WeTransfer, with features on WePresent detailing her curation. “We attempt to challenge the status quo and question why these barriers exist in the first place,” Damian Bradfield, chief creative officer and co-founder of WeTransfer and WePresent, tells Surface, “and Solange is a true artistic visionary who provokes and breaks down barriers to entry, creating more inclusive spaces to uplift often overlooked voices and issues.”
Below, she shares insight into her curation process and selection of the first round of artists.
Elliot Jerome Brown Jr.: “Elliott Jerome photographs with a masterful force that permits the viewer to imagine worlds and narratives for his portraits. His work demonstrates an expressionist, storytelling style that is resonant and reviving. I’ve always connected with the emotional visibility and Blackness’ plural presence in his work. There’s a multi-dimensional spirit to his art and I recognize myself in the vulnerability of his subjects.”
Dozie Kanu: “A believer in the life force of objects, Dozie Kanu activates an incarnation through his sculptures. I admire his ability to create spiritual and kinetic energy by turning ideas into artful assemblages.”
Autumn Knight: “Autumn Knight’s artistry combines performance and visual art to overlap subjects, soundscapes and settings in the contemplation of identity; specifically with regards to race, gender and authority. I’m in awe of the way she marries theater, raw expression, psychology, and choreography to evoke feelings of Black feminine interiority.”
Jacolby Satterwhite: “His digital narratives both affirm and encourage unique identities in the space of art and technology. He depicts the vibrancy of surrealism by centering authenticity and otherness. Whether it’s using dance as a forum or archival footage to evoke a spirit, his work sets a precedent for the kind of impact and influence culture has on creative expression, invention and autonomy.”