On Saturday afternoon, as Miami Art Week was winding to a close and conversations all over town had turned to bad weather in New York City and the ballpark costs of changing one’s flight at the last minute, Observer’s editorial director, Mary von Aue, introduced a welcome respite from the quasi-chaotic art fair energy with a panel hosted in partnership with CADAF, the Contemporary & Digital Art Fair that unfolded at Mana Wynwood. Miami Art Week can feel defined by the millions of unregulated blue chip art dollars that flow through it, but Observer’s panel, entitled “How Can International Artists Benefit from Technology?” posed questions about how artists suppressed by sanctions and hostile governments can find new ways to thrive.
The panel’s speakers included Judy Mam, the co-founder of Dada.art, an online global art platform; Nicole Martinez, an independent arts journalist and a marketing manager at the Museum of Art and Design at MDC; Lindsay Moroney, the COO of Artory, a public registry for art and objects that uses blockchain technology; and Serena Tabacchi, founder of the Museum of Contemporary Digital Art. The wide-ranging conversation shed light on a number of different emerging systems in the art world, including the developing secondary market for digital art and the practice of cementing an artwork’s provenance using the blockchain. There are now tons of new ways to buy art that benefit the artist that don’t involve being granted access to the auction house system.
The talk also turned to the rise of bitcoin and decentralized systems of exchange in South Africa, where citizens are finding ways to avoid the astronomical costs of converting currency to the dollar or euros. For artists all over the world struggling to survive and practice their trades, tools like these can be vital.
Additionally, technology has been helping practitioners circumvent many of the systems—or even government policies—that make earning money from art a constant challenge. “What I think has been really interesting regarding technology in Cuba is the access that it’s been giving dissident artists,” Martinez said. “In Cuba you need to have a license to be an artist, you need a license to sell art, and if you have that license you are part of a very specialized class of people who are able to travel, who are able to sell their work internationally.”
Attendees were left with a sense that although policies may not be changing fast enough to benefit artists around the globe, technologies built by professionals dedicated to protecting and safeguarding artists are only gaining traction, and that’s a significant shift in the right direction.