Unveiling the next three works of the K21 Collection
What are we? Who are we becoming? How should we organize ourselves? The big questions require us to embiggen our universe. They require multiplying the territory to make a useful map.
Ancient cultures from Cuzco to Giza started by defining an axis mundi, a world axis. Whether a simple staff or a sky scraping pyramid, a vertical structure would mark a navel of the Earth, a symbolic but active center around which everything else could orbit. The archetypal axis was a tree or mountain, a conduit that could be scaled to traverse between worlds, transcending the local folds of the cosmos. They enlarged reality by providing access to its twin through other states of being, other narratives of creation, other metaphors for experience.
These three works of the K21 Collection — those of Suzanne Treister, Hank Willis Thomas × Wide Awakes, and Jenna Sutela — are such axes of their own, navels around which complex narratives turn. They bridge worlds, making ours bigger, mapping possible new realities.
Suzanne Treister confronts us with our own taboos. Her diagrams surface conveniently ignored dimensions of reality, from state sponsored mind control programs to the witchcraft industrial complex to the unexplainable forces they operationalize, in esoteric configurations that are at once analytical and active. In “The Cosmic Number,” she has crafted an interactive Kabbalistic tree of life around the number 137, the navel of numerology that relates the fine structure constant of the cosmos together with the gematric sum of the word “Kabbala” itself. In a twisting logic incompatible with the pat linearity of space and time, her protagonists — Wolfgang Pauli and CG Jung — are woven into an interactive website that weaves portraits, concepts, and a film she shot in Wolfgang Pauli’s archival library at CERN, the looping (under)world tree of quantum physics. The first-ever NFT extended by Kanon’s rich protocol, KSPEC, hers is a multi-part piece written exclusively in the basic HTML protocol that Sir Tim Berners-Lee (another of the figures her work has profiled) first crafted at the same location.
View “The Cosmic Number” in the K21 gallery here →
Read more about Treister and her artwork here →
The Wide Awakes were a posse of American abolitionists in the nineteenth century who employed a series of creative tactics to inflect history towards justice and equality under the banner of an all seeing eye. This was not the Masonic ideogram that still haunts the dollar bill, but a people’s eye, the unflinching eye that takes stock of the multitude — its health and its progress — from the top of the pyramid. Hank Willis Thomas and his ever-expanding collective of collaborators have taken up the mantle of the Wide Awakes a century and a half on, resurrecting the rubric for their nation-wide efforts to finish what their namesakes started: achieving equity, building a safety network for the dispossessed and elevating the notion of radical joy in the process.. For their first NFT, they have minted a canonical image of the eye: radiant, black and white, emanating from a tear. Distilled down to a simple two-bit image, “Ametropia” is the center of one of the cyclones that is remaking American culture all over again, today.
View “Ametropia” in the K21 gallery here →
Read more about Hank Willis Thomas, Wide Awakes, and their artwork here →
Jenna Sutela’s “YAMSUSHIPICKLE” uses time-based media — video, namely — to depict the time-based decay of her artwork’s eponymous elements: the foundational diet of DeFi. YAM, SUSHI, and PICKLE are the tickers of three of the earliest and most archetypal lego blocks of decentralized finance. Derivative projects forked from originals like Yearn and Uniswap, they are more the rule than the exception in the de facto permissionless and open source environment of blockchain development. Their stories are downright Shakespearian: tales of prodigal founders, flashloan robberies, the unifying of great houses. Having recorded their physical analogues rotting away in a transparent terrarium in her own home for a month and a half, Sutela’s “video vanitas” reminds us of the fleeting nature of worldly pursuits, an art historical trope here applied to the very infrastructure that hosts it. Consumed by microbes and returned to from whence they came, Sutela’s decaying cornucopia brings the dimension of wetware to the hardware and software regimes of crypto culture.
View “YAMSUSHIPICKLE” in the K21 gallery here →
Read more about Sutela and her artwork here →
There is no one Axis Mundi — capital A, capital M. Though each is singular, an axis mundi is not monogamous, nor need be those who erect it. Our many worlds have many centers. Master narratives may be outmoded, but art, thankfully, makes places to make sense of all that swirls.