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The platform signalled its contemporary art world aspirations with the hiring of Christopher Y. Lew, former curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and partnerships with established artists.

Outland Bridges Art World and NFTs With Fang Lijun Sale

Fang Lijun, Elemental (2022), NFT. Courtesy the artist and Outland.

All 2,022 illustrations in Fang Lijun's Elemental series have been snapped up in Outland's inaugural NFT sale, which launched on 20 February.

Sold for 0.2 to 0.3 ETH (US $563 to $845 at time of writing), the works have already doubled in price, reselling on OpenSea from 0.6 ETH.

Outland was co-founded by former digital production executive Jason Li, curator Christopher Y. Lew, former head of brand, content and audiences for Serpentine Jesse Ringham, and May Xue, former CEO of UCCA. It aims to distinguish itself from other NFT platforms with a more critically and curatorially driven approach.

'Unlike other trading-oriented marketplaces, Outland began with a focus on art content and criticism as its main section since its launch in November 2021,' Xue told Ocula Magazine. 'In other words, Outland attempts to discuss and explore the cultural and social significance of contemporary art in the field of blockchain on a practical level.'

Xue said they chose to use work by Fang Lijun, who is better known for his paintings than new media works, 'as a bridge connecting art and technology.'

Fang Lijun, Elemental (2022), NFT.

Fang Lijun, Elemental (2022), NFT. Courtesy the artist and Outland.

Elemental's number of editions was chosen to signify 2022 as a year for new beginnings, and the price point was set to draw in as many collectors as possible. There are currently some 1,300 owners of the works.

'We want to reach as many collectors as possible, because for us an important aspect of NFTs and blockchain technology is accessibility and inclusivity,' Xue said.

Fang shared the same sentiment in a video about Elemental in which he traces the history of art back to works made for religious reasons.

'Art is no longer reserved for God only, but finally owned by humans,' he said. 'Today, everyone possesses the desire and the right to acquire the artworks they like.'

'Nowadays, aside from the democratisation of art, is the desire for convenience. Elemental is just participating in such a process with a language that defies tradition and convention,' he said.

Future Outland drops will feature works by: experimental animation artist Lei Lei; Xinjiang-born artist Zhao Zhao, a former assistant to Ai Weiwei; and New York-based artist Rachel Rose, who is known for her dreamlike video installations. —[O]

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