Linda Dounia, an incredibly talented senegalese artist and visual designer based in Dakar, part of the VerticalCrypto Art community and first resident of the VCA Residency Program, has been selected to take part in the first inaugural NFT auction of Artsy x Vertisart.
The auction features 22 artists reflecting a variety of mediums including AI, painting, installations, sculptures, video and more, who are at the cutting edge of the contemporary, digital and street art world. Some of the featured artists include names like Mario Klingemann, Pindar Van Arman, Penny Slinger, Vince Fraser and more.
Artsy x Verisart: 22 for 2022 officially starts on the 25th of Jan 2022, lasting for 2 consecutive weeks. This project was born from the collaboration of two art market’s institutions: Verisart, an award-winning and patented NFT minting and certification platform and Artsy, the largest global online marketplace for discovering, buying, and selling fine art by leading artists.
Together these two realities have combined their years of expertise aiming at one common goal: “Promoting diverse voices and artworks by emerging and world-renowned artists, providing a platform for them to gain global exposure and see tangible results” as stated in the official auction’s Press Release.
VerticalCrypto Art is extremely proud to showcase Linda Dounia’s work ‘Dust is hard to breathe’.
We deep dive into Linda’s practice and the artwork with an exclusive interview with her:
VCA: Can you tell us the story behind this work? What led you to make it? What are the ideas you’re addressing or what message are you conveying?
Linda: When the pandemic started, I was away from home – Dakar. As soon as I was able to, I moved back to the city. I was craving the sense of belonging I feel when I am here. It’s interesting though how our memories of home never quite change, even as the places in those memories inevitably do. When the honeymoon phase of moving back settled in, I started to notice the changes to my city and realized that I had to relearn its rhythms. So much was the same but so much was also worth learning anew, especially the weather. So I started paying more attention to the seasons and how people adapted to the increase in dust, smog, and the unpredictability of rains. The rhythm of the piece is based on these observations. Climate change can be an abstract conversation, but it is also an observable phenomenon, especially when it affects your home.
VCA: What was your process like in making this work?
Linda: I have been training a few generative adversarial network models (a branch of AI) with my acrylic works. The idea of working with artificial intelligence capable of learning from my art practice was very exciting to me. Many of my animated pieces come from this collaboration between man and machine. It’s a conversation really – I feed the models with my work and it learns how I paint, then it generates outputs of its learning process, which I then curate and stitch together into a story through animation techniques. I can adapt the rhythm of the animation to anything – drum sequences, melodies, sounds of people walking on the Dakar pavements, etc. In this case, I used the weather and its changes over the course of a year.
VCA: How and when did you first decide to make NFTs?
Linda: I had been a visual designer for a little 7 years making art during my off-time. It got to a point where I couldn’t be bothered about a client’s needs on a project and just wanted space to explore form for its own sake. I decided to look for my options and found that since I hadn’t attended art school and didn’t have an established network in the traditional art world, residencies would be my best bet. While looking for and applying for residencies, a friend of mine told me about NFTs – at first, the idea was to build a small market while waiting to be accepted in a residency. The more I learned about the technology and its accessibility for people with my background, I decided to invest myself fully into NFTs as a means to share my work with the world. One of the most attractive features of NFTs is the ability to retain ownership over my work and continue to profit from secondary sales through the smart contract. The second feature I have come to enjoy is the ability to shape how and how often I interact with the world – as an introvert with social anxiety, the idea of socializing being an integral part of an art career was frightening to me.
VCA: What are you able to achieve or convey through NFTs as opposed to other art mediums? Or, how has the rise of NFTs in the past year influenced you as an artist?
Linda: I don’t see NFTs as a new medium (although a beautifully designed smart-contract can be a work of art). I see it as a technology that provides an alternative path for how to build an art market. The work of art has to exist first before it can be turned into an NFT. This means NFTs haven’t necessarily changed my creative practice – what I make, why I make it, how I make it. As a visual designer, I have always merged physical and digital image-making tools in my work. The fundamental difference with NFTs is what becomes what I’ve made. I can provide collectors with proof of provenance through the smart contract. I can also retain ownership and profit from my work in an automated way. I have agency over how my work is sold and who it is sold to. As an artist who happens to be black, African, and a woman, this is revolutionary. The relative absence of middlemen in the NFT space means fewer gatekeepers, which means I am more visible in the NFT space than I would have been in the traditional art market (or at least it would have taken me much longer to get to where I am in my career). It also means I retain the bulk of my earnings in perpetuity, which is almost unheard of for someone like me.
Artist Biography: Linda Dounia is a Senegalese artist and visual designer based in Dakar. Her work focuses on the social construction of power and the cultural implications of how it is distributed. She has exhibited work at the Tezos show at Art Basel Miami, Art X Lagos, Fort NFT Gallery, and The Museum Of Newfangled Art. Her work has appeared in Vogue Singapore, Nataal, and The Art Newspaper.
Artwork description: Loving Dakar also means putting up with its unforgiving January harmattan winds. A thick fog of dust mixed with exhaust smoke envelops the corniche as people get to work or come back from it. The city takes on a yellow cloudy tint. For a time, she is a new kind of beautiful – not bright, electric blue, and warm; but covered, mysterious, and slow. She would be perfect if dust wasn’t so hard to breathe. In this animated piece, the seasons of the city are placed in the context of each other. Each vignette is created by animating curated outputs of an AI model trained on a series of acrylic paintings by the artist. The movements and rhythm are informed by how the citadins adapt to a changing environment, the predictability of which has been rapidly reducing over the last few years.
View & collect: https://nft.artsy.net/
The auction will run for two weeks starting on Tuesday 25th January 2022 at 1PM EST and ending February 8th at 6PM EST. All artworks are viewable and and can be purchased on Artsy at: https://nft.artsy.net/
We are thrilled and excited for Linda Dounia to be participating in the first Artsy NFT auction!
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