In conversation with A. Moret

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Today we are chatting with A. Moret, one of the juror for the Artsted Spotlight Prize in collaboration with VOLTA Fairs.
A. Moret is an international arts contributor and curator. Her curiosity about the intersection of art and technology inspired the founding of Installation Magazine, the first all-digital Contemporary art magazine a decade ago. As the Artistic Director and Editor-in-Chief she is the voice behind all of the editorial content - conducting interviews with artists and fellow curators around the world and developing enriching partnerships that make art a source of conversation and not intimidation.

A. Moret, Editor-in-Chief of Installation Magazine

Here are some of the questions that I asked her ahead of the VOLTA Fair in New York.

How did you start working in the art world as a writer? Tell us more about Installation Magazine and how did you decide to work in this field.

A. Moret: I have always loved telling stories. From my early days in elementary school, I became fascinated with creating books, folding writing paper that had a newspaper-like residue with printed lines as a guide for handwriting in half. The loose-leaf pages were then bound using a sequence of zig-zagged staples and stamped with the date. A recurring subject in these books was the adventures I had visiting my dad’s office. At the time he worked as an Anchor and Chief Entertainment Correspondent for one of the leading international cable news networks. My visits to the bureau taught me how a story came to life and the collaboration involved in finalizing a segment to air on live television. Before my feet could even touch the floor, I sat next to the director in the control room reading along with the script, giving camera directions and calling “action!” The methodology of producing stories appealed both to my analytical tendencies while also feeling endless creative freedom in communicating a narrative that was pieced together through intensive research and interviews.

After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in both Art History and Mass Communication Theory from USC, I landed an editorial internship at the newly relaunched Los Angeles Times Magazine. Working in the historic building in Downtown Los Angeles and being a part of a small staff of writers and editors, it felt beautifully familiar and the perfect bookend to my childhood. I climbed the ranks from intern to full-time staff member working alongside the Senior Editor and conducting research and interviews. On the same day, I was accepted to graduate school for an MFA in writing, my first article was published. The accomplishment of my first byline far outweighed my original plans to continue my education. As I started to gain my footing in the editorial world, I began reaching out to every local and national art publication that I discovered on my weekend adventures to galleries. I believe in the power of manifestation and persistence- I kept knocking on doors and waited patiently for them to open. Once they did, I was prepared to commit every waking second to honing my skills as a writer, interviewer, and editor. After two years I had achieved my first goal of becoming a published writer and my tenure at the Los Angeles Times was invaluable but it had run its course. I realized that while I loved contributing to art publications mainly reviewing exhibitions, I felt constrained by the format. Whenever I shared an article with my friends and family, their support was veiled by a dissonance they felt as they weren’t accustomed to the art jargon inherent to the writing style. I founded Installation in 2011 with the intention of making art accessible to everyone. I wanted to invite the reader into the artist's studio and engage in a narrative that was focused on the story of the artist and the visceral qualities of a studio visit. I made the decision to focus on profiles, interviews, and photo reportage and refrain from writing the reviews that I had been accustomed to.

I transformed a 200-square-foot space in the Barker Hangar that has been in my family for the last four decades into the magazine’s official headquarters. The space had been sitting empty and served as storage filled with contents occupying every precious square inch. After an extensive month of renovation, I put the final coat of paint on the walls and was ready to start working. As luck would have it, the Hangar hosts events all year long and many of which were the leading art and design fairs. I always kept the lights on and the sliding glass doors open so that Installation became a part of the community it was so intrigued by. To date, Installation has featured over 1,000 artists working across all disciplines locate around the world. We were the first all-digital Contemporary art publication designed for the iPad- and this was before the use case of the iPad was even known. Ironically many of the artists we featured didn’t own an iPad so I ended up sending them PDF versions of the articles. We transitioned from a quarterly to a weekly publication with a small staff that barely fit in our headquarters. We had the unique opportunity to collaborate with Beeple, Jen Stark, Friends With You and Gregory Siff before their styles were familiar to the mainstream. Soon the magazine became an opportunity for me to travel and curate site-specific installations. We also began our journey as International media partners, beginning with VOLTA.

My work gives me the unique opportunity to do what I love each day- discover new artists, conduct studio visits and interviews, art direct photoshoots, and collect. While my career path has been anything but traditional, the path that I forged led me to exactly the right place.

When and how did you first hear about NFTs and what was your first reaction?
How do you think the traditional white cube gallery model and NFT spaces can co-exist in a meaningful way?

My formal introduction to NFTs began last year when my partner at Installation Magazine, Rainer Hosch attended Vienna Contemporary. As the leading art fair in Austria, the curatorial focus was contemporary art from 25 galleries across 10 countries in Central and Eastern Europe. In addition to the selected galleries, the fair featured a robust program including tours throughout the city, performances, special projects, and panel discussions. Rainer messaged me late one night and told me about a panel discussion called he attended called “NFT- The Future of Art?” The discussion took place in a modest space beyond the walls of the art fair. The panel brought together disruptors and visionaries on the front lines of creativity and included: Benoit Pagotto, Co-founder RTFKT and Partner and Curator in Chief at THE MINT, Edward Cawley,, Artist Relations, MGXS – Fernando Magalhães, Artist, WEBB, Artist & Founder of CRYPTOWEEBS, Rahilla Zafar, Executive Producer, MINTED, Advisor to 4R Capital, and moderated by James Joseph, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of CYBR Magazine, Partner and Editorial Director at THE MINT. After Rainer met the panelists and photographed them in what would later become a multi-part feature for Installation Magazine, he returned to Los Angeles eager to learn everything he possibly could about NFTs and how to become a part of a community fueled by innovation, camaraderie, and intrigue. Together we began attending panels, and conventions, learning Discord, and developing an NFT project for Installation. The speed at which work is created and then shared in the NFT feels entirely different from the traditional art world, thus each day feels like a new lesson in newly released projects, currencies, and partnerships.

I do believe that the traditional gallery model and NFT spaces can co-exist however we need to define clear boundaries of where the gallery starts and the metaverse begins. In my interview with MGXS, he articulated this very question best when he said that we cannot “copy and paste” the familiarity and constraints of the traditional gallery structure with NFTs rather they maintain autonomy. The methodology that guides the gallery operates on a set of procedures that have remained relatively unchanged. The NFT space offers freedom and transparency that was never thought possible but the blockchain creates a ledger that allows artists to connect to their collectors and for collectors to feel like they are actively participating in an artist’s development. Once we recognize how the metaverse can enhance the narrative established IRL, we can begin to successfully develop hybrid models. I do believe that the success of co-existence begins with an open mind.

Who are your favorite NFT artists?

As a journalist, I always aim to remain as objective as possible. I am most intrigued by artists who have been able to integrate NFTs as an extension of their practice and develop thoughtful projects and dare to take risks. A few of my favorite artists happen to work with NFTs rather than identifying solely as NFT artists. Currently, I admire the work of Rainer Hosch whose Genesis collection titled “52icons” changed the face of portraiture on the blockchain, Nancy Baker Cahill who uses AR/VR and Web3 to explore themes of identity, authorship, and the fragile state of the environment as it relates to the climate crisis and the impact of data mining. The generative works of MGXS are a source of endless fascination as are Jen Stark’s mesmerizing cosmic portals. I have had the opportunity to interview Jesse Woolston who creates sound pieces whose wavelengths and frequencies articulate colors and patterns which are then used to create immersive environments. Since first working with Beeple in 2013, it’s been totally surreal to watch his commitment to his work evolve and explode. Every day I learn about a new artist and follow their story in the metaverse so my list is brief but constantly growing.

What are your thoughts about the evolutions of NFTs and their role in an art fair like VOLTA?

The ethos of Installation Magazine and VOLTA have been aligned since we first started working together a decade ago. We believe that art should be a source of conversation and not intimidation and VOLTA complements that with “Discover. Connect. Collect.” When considering the presence of NFTs in an art fair, we need to return to MGXS’s comment that we cannot “copy and paste” the two models rather we have to create an environment that fosters discovery and slowly integrate the blockchain so that it feels organic to the visitor and a natural

extension of a gallery’s programming. It is a privilege to work with VOLTA as we both see the promise and excitement in NFTs - while the technology is intriguing the intrinsic connection to a community built upon transparency and respect is inspiring.

What do you see in the future for the NFT world and how do you think curated platforms can improve?

I closely follow entrepreneur and personality Gary Vaynerchuk who has expressed that NFTs will soon translate into experiences. He contends that everything we currently have wristbands and tickets for such as sporting events, concerts, and festivals will move onto the blockchain. In the same way that we questioned the early days of the internet and social media platforms, we are now contending with variables for a future that has an infinite number of possibilities. Our world is expanding and so too are the opportunities to connect with a single digital wallet. We should never lose sight of the story because it is the narrative that makes an NFT project compelling. Curated platforms should be a source of discovery, education, and connection.

Ultimately, what is your advice for NFT collectors?

I am very new to collecting NFTs but I have always been an art collector. I maintain that you should collect the work that resonates with you rather than collecting for the sake of it or investing as a means to immediately sell the work for a profit. I believe that just like a physical art collection that we hold onto and bring with us as move into each new space in our life we are investing in the artist. We should approach should NFTs with the same thought and consideration. The story of your collection only needs to make sense to you because it tells a story that spans a lifetime. Every piece is a moment and every artist is a creator of magic that you always want to hold onto.

Written by
Anna Frattini