Today we are skipping our Weekly Editor’s Pick for a very special interview with Luisa Ausenda. Breaking barriers and paving the way for a more inclusive art world, that's the vision of our latest interviewee Luisa Ausenda, art curator. Get ready to dive into the intersection of feminism and digital art!
Can you tell us briefly what is your journey in the art world? What was your first approach to NFTs?
I started working at an art gallery when I was still studying in Milan (Italy). I then moved to Istanbul (Turkey), and to Havana (Cuba), always working at art galleries. I first approached the NFTs artworld – or better yet, the NFTs artworld first approached me – in March 2020, when I was living in Havana and working at Galleria Continua. Nadia Taiga, co-founder at Snark.art, invited me to join this platform as a curator. Whereupon I served as a consultant for both Snark.art and a second platform, which today is known as Materia. In March 2021, I co-founded ClitSplash, a feminist NFT art curatorial collective together with Cuban curator Gladys Garrote which was later joined by the Italian art critic Federica Pogliani and the Venezuelan curator Tam Gryn. In 2022 I worked as Aorist’s Head of Collector Relations. Recently, I became a freelance and founded my own creative production studio, Studio Leggero, with which I curate and produce projects in the metaverse and IRL.
You had the opportunity to work closely with female artists, and you co-founded ClitSplash, a feminist curatorial collective. What is the role of feminism and feminist curatorship in NFTs production?
There are women-led projects such as WOCA (Women of Crypto Art) and WorldofWomen.nft that are influential in the space. The first one works as a sort of social network for all kinds of professionals who identify as women (artists, curators, collectors, etc.) to e-meet and exchange knowledge and information. Members of the WOCA community often use the platform to share open calls for women artists and invitations to take part in artistic projects. On the other hand, WorldofWomen.nft is a collectibles project that “celebrates representation, inclusivity and equal opportunities” and which has obtained prominence and financial success. Aside from these well-known projects, there are numerous “underground” projects on the rise. I believe that feminism and feminist curatorship are not yet playing a distinct role in the digital art ecosystem because there are only a few initiatives that mention feminism as their core value or that simply amplify women’s voices. Yet, women are increasing in the space, so it’s a matter of time until we’ll be able to lead it.
How did Covid change collecting and what is the role of NFTs in this new setting? What are the opportunities for collectors in this new environment? Do they only collect digital art or they also are interested in physical/traditional art?
When I first joined an NFT marketplace as a curator, I lived in Havana. The global lockdown had just begun, and Cuban artists were struggling to make ends meet. Tourists, their primary revenue source, stopped flocking to the island and thus buying works from their studios. The artists who managed to develop a digital artistic language, or who already had one, thrived during the pandemic and are still fully engaged in this practice. Some traditional art collectors also became increasingly more interested in digital art during the global lockdown, when they couldn’t go to exhibitions and had more time to explore it at home. Yet, NFT art’s collectors are still mostly people who do not collect traditional art. I believe that traditional art collectors with next-generation art have the incredible opportunity to immerse themselves in a new, unexplored digital art world and engage with some of the most talented artists out there. Moreover, they might familiarize themselves with the metaverse, which one day will host striking collections, commissions, artist incubators, and all sorts of art-related events.
Looking at your former work at Aorist, what is the scene of digital art collectors like? Are women collectors starting to get their way through in this world? And women artists?
When I first joined Aorist, I was positively surprised to learn that a new release of five different works by Quayola was swiftly purchased by five women. At Aorist, diversity and inclusivity are valued; some of their female artists include Charlotte Taylor, Auriea Harvey, Nancy Baker Cahill, Pilar Zeta and Lonneke Gordijin from DRIFT. The ecosystem can always improve inclusivity-wise though, especially on major marketplaces which feature almost only male artists. Yet, in my experience, women with traditional art collections are equally inclined toward exploring NFT art as men are, so I wouldn’t be surprised if in the future we’d see women collectors at the forefront of the new digital art market alongside their male counterparts.
If I am someone who never collected art, what would be your advice to start collecting digital art?
Collectors unfamiliar with the digital art scene should realize that, like with traditional art, it is important to educate yourself, participate, engage, attend exhibitions and events, speak to artists and curators, and keep a very open mind. Literature and new models are in the making: academics at Cambridge and MIT are already developing texts and courses to study the phenomenon, and art critics are beginning to tackle it. It’s important to read about, see and experience digital art in order to grasp why it is the “next-generation art,” and what, creativity-wise, is innovative in it. For instance, collectors from the traditional artworld can hardly tell the difference between programmable, generative, and recombinant art – something which is key in many artists’ practices.