by Julia Flamingo
When curator Tam Gryn talks about the Metaverse, she does it with such delight, natural and openness that it is contagious. At Artpool, we have been exploring the Metaverse alongside Gryn over the past few months to develop an ambitious project in the crypto space: an exclusive NFT collection by artist Gianni Lee, to be launched in June 2022 on Artpool platform, for The Friends of Artpool membership holders only, paired with a soon to be revealed "phygital" project with Boson Protocol.
In addition, we partnered with Boson Protocol to offer Tam Gryn a curatorial playground in their Portal Gallery, in Decentraland, where she worked closely with multi-disciplinary artist, Gianni Lee, on his first Web3 display. Together, we have been learning a lot about what it means to curate in the Metaverse.
The Director of Fine Arts at Rally.io, Tam Gryn comes from Venezuela and is based in Miami, where she is the co-founder of Culturadora and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Kulturspace Foundation in Berlin. She curates at the intersection between art and other industries, such as fashion, architecture, urban planning, and healthcare. A fierce advocate of technological innovations in the art world, she is keen on working with different artists to generate new genuine experiences in the crypto space.
We carried out an interview with Tam Gryn so that you can also discover this new space for the curatorial practice and get as excited with it as we did!
Julia Flamingo - Let's start from the beginning. What is the Metaverse for you?
Tam Gryn - The metaverse for me is art and gaming’s lovechild. Art and gaming are two different industries clashing and creating a new cultural supercontinent. It is a digital space where we can conduct our digital lives. It’s a combination of immersive software, hardware and communication tools. This technology allows us to create in new limitless ways we haven’t yet imagined or experienced. We spend most of our remote days working on Zoom. The metaverse proposes a more connected digital experience. It’s a digital space where we are not limited by the traditional physical constrictions of space, movement or law. It is a creative dream to transcend into an alternate reality. We should be able to create in the metaverse the experiences that are not possible in the tangible world.
JF - Gianni Lee is a renowned street artist, photographer, and musician. Why did you choose him to work with you in the Metaverse?
TG - Gianni is one of the most open minded and interdisciplinary artists working today. He is a creator that transcends the traditional definitions of what fine artists are expected to do. Similarly to my philosophy on the Metaverse, I want to push and expand our preconceptions of art. Gianni has dedicated his career as a self-taught artist to exploring public spaces like the street. He then took his work to canvas and then exploded into multi media including contextual gaming references and brand collaborations, always with a strong socio political critique. His creative expression is limitless. Similar to the metaverse.
JF - Could this project happen in other spaces apart from the Metaverse? Physically or digitally?
TG - What I love about our partners at Boson Protocol is that they understand the importance of connecting different realities. In my opinion, artists and projects who will be successful in web3 are the ones who can connect both the physical and the digital expansions of our reality. That is why this comprehensive project includes NFTs, physical art, a physical talk during the Venice Biennale and a metaverse exhibition.
JF - In your curatorial practice you aim to merge different languages or fields in each of the projects you develop. Why is this so important to you? Why should this be important in the work of every curator today?
TG - It has always been my goal to expand preconceptions and the definition of what art is. One of the ways I do that is by researching the intersection between art and other industries. I have curated at Showfields at the intersection between art and retail, I worked in Miami with the city and its different districts in the intersection between art and architecture and art and urban planning. I’m interested in the intersection between art and education and art and healthcare. Right now, I am aligned with what’s happening in the world and how art is exploring that boundary at the intersection of technology and finance. Another way in which I conduct my research is always at the very edge of art and innovation. Each curator, similar to each artist, has their own research and area of focus. I think we should all be open minded to each other’s practices and try to understand each other instead of criticizing or shutting down what we don’t understand.
JF - During Artpool's event in Venice, you said that working in Web3 equals working as a collective, in partnership, and never alone. Who are you working with to build this project in the Metaverse? What is the work flow and who is behind this new universe you are creating?
TG - This is my second time curating in the metaverse. I am still exploring what this means in different digital spaces but one thing is true of all projects. The curator and the artist are rarely working alone. We worked with Boson Protocol’s excellent team of world builders and technologists that help bridge digital assets in the metaverse together with Gianni’s physical artworks in the tangible world. It was an exercise in imagining what is familiar (such as a gallery space) with what is possible in a space where there are no rules, no limits and no standards yet. One of the things that came up is that the scale of the artworks could stand on their own without any wall or door restrictions.
JF - What are the main concerns a curator must have when working in the Metaverse?
TG - Keep in mind the different ways of curating, as Hans Ulrich [Obrist] would say but don’t forget to explore, test, make mistakes and try new things. That is how you find innovation. Creating spaces in the meta-verse that pretend to be the real world isn’t authentic. The metaverse should exist to explore things that aren’t possible IRL either due to tangible limitations, legal limitations or other restrictions.
JF - Not everyone can have access to the Metaverse. Is this something that worries you?
TG - The metaverse is the same as digital life right now. All of these tech terms were used in journalism as regular tech descriptions and are now being called “The Metaverse”: multiplayer game,Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, 5G, Avatar, Digital event, blockchain, immersive internet and video chat. I do not worry about access in the same way that I do not worry about things I cannot control.
Persephone, an exclusive NFT collection by Gianni Lee curated by Tam Gryn, will be launched in mid-June 2022, exclusively for Friends of Artpool members. Gianni Lee's NFT collection will be featured in an immersive exhibition in the Metaverse, organised in partnership with Boson Protocol on view in their Portal Gallery.
In addition to his NFT collection for The Friends of Artpool, Gianni Lee will be dropping a limited series of physical items which will only be available to collect via the Boson Portal Gallery, stay tuned for further announcements! Join the club now: Find out more about the Friends of Artpool here!