Artist Damon Zucconi is the winner of the fourth edition of the OGR Award, organised by Artissima and Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT in dialogue with the project Surfing NFT

Torino, 10 March 2022 – During the evening prize ceremony held on Wednesday 9 March 2022 at OGR Torino, Damon Zucconi – represented by VEDA gallery based in Firenze – was announced as the winner of the fourth edition of the OGR Award organised by Artissima and Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT.

This year the OGR Award has been in dialogue with the project Surfing NFT, a new initiative of the platform Beyond Production in which Artissima and Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT engage in reflections on the most innovative trends in contemporary art. The focus for 2021 was the phenomenon of NFTs.

The winner was selected from a group of five artists, chosen by an international committee during the latest iteration of Artissima, whom of which received a grant for the production of digital artworks to be registered on blockchain by means of a Non-Fungible Token.

The five artists –  Darren Bader – Franco Noero, Torino / Claudia Comte – König, Berlin / Matteo Nasini – Clima, Milano / Sarah Ortmeyer – Dvir, Brussels and Tel Aviv / Damon Zucconi – VEDA, Firenze – then each submitted an NFT work on a digital platform coordinated by Artshell, with the possibility of being selected for the OGR Award.

The winning NFT Counting Frame (2022) by Damon Zucconi will be acquired by Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT to add to its collection. After having always been focused on traditional artworks, this is the first time the collection acquires an NFT artwork.

The prize was assigned by an international jury composed of Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, director of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea in Rivoli, Daniel Birnbaum, artistic director of Acute Art in London, Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of Serpentine Galleries in London, Senior Advisor of LUMA in Arles and Senior Artistic Advisor of The Shed in New York; and Samuele Piazza, senior curator of OGR Torino.

The jury expressed the following statement:
“The jury unanimously awards Damon Zucconi, represented by VEDA gallery in Firenze, for the way his NFT evokes the history of calculation through the abacus, a physical object here transformed into something immaterial, bringing to mind our world made of bits and lines of code.
There is something surreal in this work, since it brings together the early abacus which you see with your eyes and the capacity of the digital to calculate high numbers, thus highlighting the different ways in which we attribute value to numbers.
In Counting Frame Zucconi uses the abacus as a way of anchoring the contemporary possibility of visual production and distribution to ancient techniques and tools. The abacus becomes hypnotic, mesmerising, capturing the attention in an infinite loop.”

The jury also assigned an honourable mention to Matteo Nasini, represented by Clima gallery in Milano, with the following statement:
“The artist is a master of the digital craft of rendering, which  transforms a high resolution and apparently tiny image into something that allows you to experience the universe, making Nasini a ‘world builder’.”

The OGR Award has been created to identify an artist who effectively conveys the complex and sophisticated relationship between art, technology and innovation, with a particular focus on digital means. Now in its fourth year, the prize has established a dialogue with Surfing NFT.

Thanks to the support of Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT, a key component of Fondazione CRT, and in collaboration with the technical partners Artshell and LCA Studio Legale, professionals highly specialised – respectively – in digital technologies and the legal issues connected with NFTs, Artissima has offered the five selected artists the possibility of producing an NFT blockchain-registered work and showing it on a special platform developed for the occasion by Artshell, without the obligation to sell the artwork through the normal process of exchange of cryptocurrency. Fondazione per l’Arte Contemporanea CRT  provided a budget of 8,000 euros for the production of each work and will also acquire the awarded artwork.

Surfing NFT has three innovative strong points: it has been developed in a specialised context, concentrating on the quality of the artwork rather than its commercial value; it also involves private galleries, and relies on their role as mediators; and it devotes particular attention to the theme of eco-sustainability, through Polygon, a platform that uses a sustainable blockchain model in terms of energy savings. Polygon is the platform with best performance among those using POS (Proof of Stake) technology, which consumes 0.1% of the energy required for Ethereum and other POW (Proof of Work) cryptocurrencies.

Anna Ferrino, President of Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT:  “Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT opens the way for NFTs. I am pleased to congratulate Damon Zucconi on his victory in the fourth iteration of the OGR Award. His Counting Frame produced as a Non-Fungible Token with blockchain technology, now becomes part of our historic collection, and will be made available to OGR. 
This prestigious award that reinforces the effective synergy between Fondazione Arte CRT, Artissima and OGR, represents the latest stage of a challenge that began in the Fall of 2021 during the artfair in Turin,  when director Ilaria Bonacossa suggested that we support the conceptual platform Beyond Production. Interpreted in Surfing NFT, this has given rise to a cutting-edge project that is consistent with the mission of Fondazione Arte CRT, always in the forefront of new experimental creative frontiers.
Personally and on behalf of the entire Fondazione, I would like to thank Artissima for the remarkable efforts made over the last few months, and I hope we will be able to continue on this path together with its new director, Luigi Fassi. I am also grateful to our outstanding technical partners, Artshell and Studio Legale LCA, and to the members of the international selection committee and jury for their great professionalism in the evaluation of the artworks submitted. Finally, I would like to thank the gallerists and artists who met this challenge together with us, and who produced their artworks with extraordinary commitment and passion.”

The award nomination ceremony on 9 March was preceded by two meetings under the title “Surfing NFT – Road to the OGR Award”: the first, titled “Is the art world ready for NFTs?”, was held on 13 January 2022 and featured Domenico Quaranta in conversation with Serena Tabacchi, moderated by Ilaria Bonacossa (here’s the recording). The second meeting titled “Galleries go NFT” was held on 14 February 2022 and presented Margit Rosen in conversation with Johann König, moderated by Ilaria Bonacossa (recording here).

In the first three editions, the award was assigned to:  Rokni Haerizadeh in 2017, presented by the gallery Isabelle van den Eynde of Dubai; Tomás Saraceno in 2018, presented by the gallery Pinksummer of Genova; and to Yuri Ancarani in 2019, presented by the gallery Isabella Bortolozzi of Berlin.

Damon Zucconi (b. 1985, Bethpage, NY) lives and works in New York. Zucconi works with custom made software and scripts to create works which are typically accessible online.  Lists, numeric sequences, simulations, words, calendars, books, images, and websites become materials. Forms are broken down and put back together in incorrect orders or with subtle modifications. By doing so, he shifts the emphasis to the processes used to create meaning, from the content of what a form might mean in and of itself. Recent solo exhibitions include: Lithromantic at VEDA, Florence (2020), Imagine a World Without You at JTT, New York (2019).

photo credit: Giorgio Perottino

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