Sophie Auger is an interdisciplinary artist from Quebec and a lecturer at Parsons School of Design and Rutgers University. Her work deconstructs various technologies of image dissemination by operating through screens and projectors, art venues and markets. Her shifting practice takes many forms: video installation, publication, photography, experimentation on the blockchain, radio performance, or building sculptural projectors. Auger holds a BFA from Concordia University (2016) and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts (2022). Her work has recently been shown at the Helsinki Center for Contemporary Art (2021) and soon at Wesbeth Gallery in New York (2022).
The lots displayed in Catalog are available in NFT version here
The NFT departs from the traditional diffusion structure of the exhibition, which is often defined by a future (announcement of the exhibition), a present (opening of the institution's doors) and a past (archive). Rather, the work, its archive and its sale are flattened into a single experience. Indeed, the NFT is not an image, but an assembling of all its metadata. It is in a way an archive, and it is this archive that is sold on the blockchain markets. The works in the exhibition If a Token Could Speak question the status of the collectible object : is it a work of art or an archive?
The NFT embodies a balancing act between mass media entertainment and the arts; the vocabulary used to describe it belongs to both. Through her experiments in cryptography and the new context of diffusion offered by the blockchain, Sophie Auger is interested in the following questions: at what point does the life of a work begin, continue and end? At what point does the audience experience the work? When and how does an experience become past?
In the video If a Token Could Speak (2022), an NFT celebrates the neoliberal tour de force of the blockchain that allows any quality-less image, a hundred times downloaded, shared, and reformatted to gain the same value as a rare work of art. Catalog (2022) is an auction catalog in the form of a holographic video. All the elements that make up the exhibition at ELEKTRA Gallery have been registered on the Tezos blockchain network as NFTs: the various stages of creation of the works, the characters in the If a Token Could Speak video, the press release, the exhibition archive and its documentation have been given an individual value and are being auctioned. Holographic devices are usually intended for commercial use (in stores, gyms or fast foods) and present products in a visually dynamic way to attract consumers.
Wark, McKenzie. My Collectible Ass. e-flux, Journal #85, Oct. 2017.
Steyerl, Hito. In Defense of the Poor Image. e-flux, Journal #10, Nov. 2009.
Rivers, Tina. Token Gesture: Tina Rivers Ryan on NFTs. Artforum International, May 2021.
Tomas, David. Consigned for Auction: A User’s Manual. Artexte, Montreal. 2013
Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. Harvard University Press, 2008.
Photo: Alejandro Escamilla