Art photography

Assembly Curated: bringing fine art photography into the NFT space

Dog Days, Bogotá #2 by Alec Soth, property of @1centWhale

“Alec Soth Dog Days, Bogota may not be his most famous project, but it’s one of the most honest and true to him as an artist,” Shane Lavalette and Ashlyn Davis Burns, co-founders of the gallery, studio creation and agency Assembly organized, tell me. “It’s his most personal work and a great story.”

Soth originally made the photographs in 2002, the year he adopted his baby, Carmen Laura. The artist and his wife, Rachel, spent two months in Bogotá, awaiting his arrival as paperwork made its way through the courts. Inspired by Carmen’s biological mother, who gave her a book of pictures, poems and letters, Soth set out to photograph her daughter’s birthplace, her gift to her child at the start of her life.

Dog Days, Bogotá #7 by Alec Soth, property of @felix_denomme

Two decades later, Assembly released the photographs as an NFT drop–Soth’s genesis collection. Composed of 55 images in total, the collection presents portraits of lovers; parents; children; Houses; landscapes; chickens; a white rabbit; and eleven dogs, old and young, some with houses and many without. The photographs sold out in just under two and a half hours.

Dog Days, Bogotá #4 by Alec Soth, property of @Nft500

Since then, Assembly has built and launched a Web3 platform, and they are also looking to develop a space to host physical exhibitions in the future. As of this writing, they have launched fifteen NFT drops of top photographers including Poulomi Basu, Penelope Umbrico, Cristina Velásquez, Daniel Gordon, Yael Malka, Rodrigo Valenzuela, and much more. A Barbara Bosworth collection just dropped today.

One Star #26 by Barbara Bosworth
El Nuevo Mundo #19 by Cristina Velasquez, owned by @ddaavvee1234

“The Assembly was the first to introduce organized drops by fine art photographers in the NFT space,” say Davis Burns and Lavalette. “At the time, there were very few established fine art photographers working with NFTs and only a handful of ‘collections’ or projects bringing together cohesive works.”

Both of Assembly’s founders come from a wealth of photography backgrounds, with years of experience in the non-profit space, having held leadership positions at Houston Center for Photography (Davis Burns) and Light Work (Lavalette). The duo launched Assembly in March 2021, the same month that NFTs came into the spotlight after a work by the artist Beeple sold for $69 million at Christie’s.

But Davis Burns and Lavalette aren’t interested in the “hype” surrounding NFTs; instead, they think long term. “We don’t select artists or work solely based on what we think we can sell,” they admit. “We are interested in artists with distinct visions that respond to our lives and times, whether through documentary-oriented projects, lyrical and poetic explorations, or pushing the language of the photographic medium itself.

“We’ve really tried to encourage a slower, more in-depth experience that’s less about the market or the trade and more about the art itself. With each artist, the goal is to bring proper context, education, and engagement with the work in this digital space, much like we would with exhibitions in the traditional world.

Going forward, this commitment to education and conservation will continue to be a cornerstone of Assembly, as they seek to bring more artists into the NFT space and offer art advice to collectors. and museums. They also work with book publishers, galleries and other institutions, as well as individual photographers.

Ursula #29 by Hannah Whitaker, property of @sashaku9292

Although the traditional and virtual worlds overlap, there are important differences. “To give just one example, the NFT space has other metrics of ‘value’ at play that aren’t always just about art or your past accolades or your resume as an artist,” the l. Assembly team. “It creates a level playing field for all artists and removes a lot of the gatekeeping that happens in the traditional art world and sometimes prioritizes artists’ ability to create energy and community. around their practice.

“It also makes the space very noisy, of course, and encourages artists to promote themselves heavily, which not all artists have the bandwidth or capacity to do. Where we see our value for our role is in curating, which doesn’t just mean selecting artists or images in our eyes, but actually helping to educate and create a deeper context around photographic work. . Through our own community building and collaboration with collectors, we can also take some of the weight off the shoulders of individual artists.

One day, Davis Burns and Lavalette predict that these early NFTs might look like vintage prints, carrying with them a heritage and legacy as unique as physical objects handcrafted in the darkroom. But at the same time, they are also soaking up the excitement and newness of it all, understanding the potential for blockchain reinvention and rebirth at this singular moment in the history of photography.

Dog Days, Bogotá #5 by Alec Soth, property of @alexgweiser
Dog Days, Bogotá #10 by Alec Soth, property of @Mestaa

“Alec admits he did Dog Days, Bogota at a time when he was not yet known or famous as an artist and knew nothing about publishing and selling prints,” the team explains. “Looking back on it and bringing it into this new NFT space, it was the right project to do, because he had the same feeling that he was embarking on something new. He also wanted to be sure that it was a project who was most authentically himself. We know the work well, of course, but revisiting it now, 20 years after the birth of his daughter, is a moving experience.

Follow Assembly Curated on Twitter at @AssemblyCurated to stay informed of future projects.

Centralia #1 by Poulomi Basu, owned by @ikcentrik
The Views #10 by Yael Malka, property of @_blockbird
Moving/Still #16 by Daniel Gordon, property of @pixelpete
Portrait Studio #27 by Daniel Gordon, property of @Carlo_VandeRoer
Negative Concord #4 by Rodrigo Valenzuela, owned by @AmbroseLerma
American Type #5 by Rodrigo Valenzuela, property of @showsupnaked
Range: Of Swiss Fort Knox #1 by Penelope Umbrico, owned by @EddiJonesNFT
High Up Close By #14 by Misha de Ridder, property of @AssemblyCurated
/CLOUD/ #1 by Barry Stone, owned by an anonymous collector

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