In a world dominated by male artists and techies, New York-based artist Olive Allen stands out not only for her socially conscious work but for her insight into the digital art realm. Olive Allen is a new media artist who uses strategies such as branding, ‘drops,’ and gamification to offer a critical yet playful view on hype, the attention economy, and cultural mores. Through bright, colourful digital artworks composed of pop-cultural and nostalgic elements, Allen grabs attention and redirects it to today’s urgent issues.
An early adopter of NFTs and cryptocurrency, Allen blends pop-cultural elements such as Pokemon cards, Furbies, and hypebeast staples with witty social criticism. Just like artists she admires, Takashi Murakami and Joyce Pensato, who deconstruct existing pop culture characters and icons as well as invent their own, Allen created her own unique character series, such as HYPEBIRDS, UnBearables, or The Sheeplezzz. These pieces engage viewers in conceptual collecting gameplay with rules, statistics, and deft societal critique.
Allen believes the work produced and released should be of the now. The relevance and relatable symbolism of her artworks serve the attention economy well, but Allen embeds deeper meanings within her pieces that can be missed in the scroll. Therein lies the tension of the work- vying for attention in a like-based economy while simultaneously seeking depth and connection. The wry, sardonic rules around the works are a kind of performance by Allen, perhaps even a taunt. By setting up systems of engagement around her work, she compels the viewers to interact with her performance, participate in its meaning, and make decisions about their own values.
Allen’s intimate NFT, “Melting Away,” shows her recurring character, the UnBearable, who first appeared a year ago as a symbol of climate change and other unbearable issues we face together as a society.
“This bear is looking at the viewer hoping for connection and compassion. The work purposefully appears blurred to emphasize that the bear is slowly fading away, and very soon there won’t be anything left of him. He looks fatigued and sad because that’s the reality for many polar bears today when their habitat is literally melting away.”
Olive Allen Melting Away 24-hour auction on Foundation starts on the eve of May 26th
Proceeds from the sale will benefit World Wildlife Fund and the “Restoration: Now or Never” Exhibition. Access Foundation’s Guide to register and learn how to bid.