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CryptoZR presents the “Arrival” project at Saatchi Gallery: Interview with the Curator, Li Zhenhua

by Federico Bonezzi | 25 May 2023

Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery and CryptoZR ©

Understanding the power of human connections through art and technology: this is, in brief, the aim of the new exhibition by CryptoZR (Liu Jiaying) hosted from May 26th at Saatchi Gallery, in London. The artist, focused on blockchain technology, had her major solo shows in 2021 and 2022, respectively at the Guardian Art Center and in Venice, in correspondence with the last Biennale. Her manifesto speaks of an holistic and ideological conception of crypto art as a way of creating a new world and a new aesthetic system, with moral as well as societal implications.

The “Arrival” show project, curated by Li Zenhua, will reflect upon discourses on language, civilisation, and communication discussed in the homonymous 2016 film and recontextualized in the metaverse era. The exhibition, as well as the work of CryptoZR, aims to introduce the public to the Multiverse through Crypto Art, being effectively a “portal to the metaverse”. How important is this kind of engagement in contemporary society and how can the traditional/physical space of a gallery succeed in conveying this multifarious message? Li Zenhua: CryptoZR has been working on blockchain-based art for years, and have held two major shows already. Our concern is how information and knowledge can be transferred in tech-based conditions this time. We face accessibilities and digital divisions when discussing crypto art or tech-based art.  To showcase CryptoZR’s work we chose a large format LED screen to display the online artwork remixed in the metaverse environment. It isn’t easy to show crypto art without mentioning its technology or concept behind it; therefore, we want to bring that forward like a magician finally unfolding their magic moment - coding, trading, and communication from the artist would all be present at our showings.  Physical space and contemporary art context are still needed to form the cognition process. Can people experience beautiful minds? Can they share those beautiful moments with others? Our goal is to break through cliches of crypto arts today by transferring knowledge between people - this is what creates powerful human connections! “Arrival” is a milestone in the contemporary sci-fi genre that has enjoyed great acclaim among the public. How does the film relate to Crypto ZR's work? And why was this specific title chosen for the project? LZH: To name the exhibition “arrival”. And by referring to the film. My concern is the entanglement of tech, language and human organization. It also refers to CryptoZR’s condition and the condition of all of us, not knowing enough, not understanding, not accessible, not included, etc.  But I still believe we can achieve a better future, and we deserve a better future, right?  Arrival can be seen as a gesture of the unknown, a moment to come, a possible contact in between.   Responding, participating and reacting to the unknown would bring people further together.

Courtesy of Saatchi Gallery and CryptoZR ©

How does the "Arrival" Project contribute to the understanding of the “power of human connections” in the contemporary multimedia society? LZH: Make things happen. We still believe in the ancient concept of the internet, tech democracy. When technology can support the management system, and it should also empower us. The question is how?  Since social media was invented after 2000, people are never engaging more than ever. We are experiencing tech democracy that involves more people and locations, which makes the impossible possible. Arrival shall empower people on crypto art by sharing knowledge created and tested by CryptoZR. Since 1985, Saatchi gallery has been a key platform and a global authority for introducing the work of emerging artists to the contemporary art world. What does it mean to you to be able to exhibit CryptoZR's art here and what are your expectations for the exhibition? LZH: Saatchi Gallery is one of the world's leading institutions because of YBA in the 90s. I wish to reassociate the spirit of YBA with CryptoZR. Self-organized, with no boundaries or fear, the multidisciplinary art form in a present unknown and untouched territory. CryptoZR’s exhibition recalls the good old time in London. The art scene is energetic and vibrating, wild and young at heart. We wish to reengage that energy of artists in the UK through Saatchi Gallery. Your career in curation spans from cinema to contemporary art. How do you evaluate the major evolutionary patterns in such areas occurred in recent years, specifically in relation to the metaverse? What do they tell us with respect to the future of art? LZH: We need to invent and discover the future of art together. If you have read the artist’s manifesto, you might discover better what CryptoZR is willing to achieve. My concern with media art started in 1999 at the ICA, London. My career is about speaking for the value of “new”, as in media art, new technology, new concept, new material and new artist.  I have nothing against old and classic knowledge.  I believe in the present. We are shaping the future. To keep up with the new, sometime the old and classic knowledge might fail to function. There I need to learn with the “new”. Then, it’s a pure joy of cognition. I have given the term Passage to the Metaverse, and I can feel the decay and transformation of our art system nowadays. And there are many patterns of function and struggle simultaneously: Co-exist, co-habitat between the knowing and unknown, online and offline.  CryptoZR brings us to the frontier and heart zone of value through metaverse creations. It tells me art can go further, challenge other territories, and more. Please rethink everything you can of what art can do. Crypto ZR: Arrival 26th May – 28th May 2023 Free entry, no pre-booking required Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York's HQ, King's Rd, London SW3 4RY Gallery 3, Ground Floor


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