Art World Predictions for the Year of the Rabbit
We asked artists Trevor Paglen, Monira Al Qadiri and Simon Denny, Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz, UCCA director Philip Tinari, and collector Patrick Sun for their thoughts on the lunar year ahead.
Exhibition view: David Altmejd, Rabbits, Xavier Hufkens, Van Eyck, Brussels (3 September–31 October 2020). Courtesy Xavier Hufkens.
On Sunday we entered a Year of the Rabbit governed by the element of water.
According to Chinese geomancers, that should douse 'fire' industries such as digital and tech, while nourishing 'wood' industries like culture and publishing.
Six forward thinkers in the art world offered their own predictions, not all of whom were quite so optimistic.
1. Trevor Paglen, Artist
2023 will see a revolution in cultural production so massive that it will make the 15th-century invention of perspective seem quaint.
In 2022, we saw generative AI applications such as DALL·E, Stable Diffusion, and ChatGPT start to 'work'. In 2023, these tools will become so enmeshed in our everyday lives that we will cease to recognise them.
The ability to generate specifically tailored text, images, and other media forms nearly instantaneously will not only decimate cultural workers, but dramatically accelerate the algorithmically-supercharged fracturing of a shared reality.
Tech companies will profit. Society will bear the costs.
2. Monira Al Qadiri, Artist
After we put away the masks, covid tests, and constant postponement of shows, I think 2023 will become known as the quintessential burnout year of artists the world over.
There is such a huge appetite to get everything running again as before—but this time in turbo drive!—that artists will be running around like headless chickens trying to make good on every exhibition offer, proposal, fair, dinner invitation, and collector meet-and-greet that comes their way.
By the end of this hurricane, we will sit down to look at the swollen soles of our feet and wonder, do I remember it all?
3. Philip Tinari, Director of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art
After three years of hardship, museums in China will return to normal programming and visitor levels. International artists and curators will be able to install their shows in person rather than over Zoom or FaceTime, and viewers will be able to travel to cities other than their place of residence to see exhibitions.
In Beijing, we are looking forward to welcoming the national public we had become accustomed to; in Shanghai we are eager for our first full year of post-Zero Covid operations.
From ticketing data the last few weeks, things are already better than they were at any point in 2022. Not to make light of the very real toll of opening, but from our operational perspective, the decisive easing of policies means that we can plan and execute with a degree of certainty that was elusive these last few years.
4. Simon Denny, Artist
In the relative peace and quiet afforded by a less-frothy crypto market, new tools for curating digital art will be on the rise.
Platforms like JPG.space and Feral File, which help give context and meaning to the enormous amount of interesting work that's out there, have always been important and are now increasing in visibility.
New, tangible ways of engaging between physical and digital art are going to materialise (no pun intended) in 2023. And, let's hope, this year will see the advent of better language to describe these things—more appealing terms for all this than 'phygital'.
5. Patrick Sun, Collector and Founder of Sunpride Foundation
I think we'll continue to see the rightfully deserved rise of non-white and LGBTQ+ artists.
I very much look forward to seeing their strong presence in exhibitions around the world, as well as their success in the market.
6. Noah Horowitz, CEO of Art Basel
While I don't have a crystal ball, some of the most important lessons that we've learned coming out of the pandemic are that innovation is key and that there's an insatiable hunger both for art and for elevated in-person experiences.
Regardless, then, of the inevitable ebbs and flows of the market in 2023, I think we can expect the next year to be significantly defined by these intertwined trajectories.
I am beyond excited about the potential for our Hong Kong show in March, which I think will firmly reassert the fair's vitality and importance on a regional and also an international level. —[O]