By Anthony Aziz, Sammy Cucher and Vinciane Jones
Aziz+Cucher is a duo made up of Anthony Aziz (b. USA, 1961) and Sammy Cucher (b. Peru, 1958). They have been working as a collaborative team since 1991, when they met as students at the San Francisco Art Institute. Their interdisciplinary practice includes video, photography, printmaking, digital animation, sculpture and large-scale jacquard tapestries. Aziz+Cucher are represented by Gazelli Art House. They have exhibited at the 46th Venice Biennale, MASS MoCA, the New Museum in New York, LACMA, the National Gallery of Berlin, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, USA.
Their inaugural NFT is based on characters from a recent video installation “You’re Welcome and I’m Sorry,” commissioned by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), in 2019. The work addresses the economic inequalities that polarize the US and the absurd theatre of recent politics.
Anthony Aziz and Sammy Cucher are considered pioneers in the field of digital imaging and post-photography, using diverse media to explore some of the most pressing issues of our time. Their work is project-based and idea-driven, with outcomes ranging from video installation and photography to printmaking, digital animation, sculpture and large-scale jacquard tapestries. The images, objects and installations they produce are meant to reflect on the boundaries of identity at a time when these are becoming increasingly fluid and undefined. Their work tries to reveal the pathologies associated with unfettered globalization, post-human conditions and the intersections between the social, the biological, and the technological. With all their projects the artists aim to create visual poetics that might express both the anxieties and expectations of living in such a moment.
One of the duo’s earliest projects, “Dystopia,” from 1995, came to international prominence at the 46th Venice Biennale. This series of photographic portraits was made during the onset of the world wide web and it represents a society turning inwards. The images feature a set of monumental headshots, or busts, with no discernable facial features. The effect was (and is) uncanny, and for some, downright shocking. These powerful images hit a nerve; they seemed to reflect the darker forces of new technology at a time when it was being embraced enthusiastically and uncritically. Limited edition prints from this series have gone on to be collected by major museums and foundations worldwide, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Maison Europeene de la Photographie in Paris, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and the San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, CA.
In 2012, the artists were commissioned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) to create a solo exhibition of new work that looked poetically at their own conflicted relationship to the endless cycles of conflict in the Middle East, as both artists have familial and cultural ties to the region (Lebanon and Israel). After experiencing the violent events of 9/11 they felt compelled to somehow make sense of the often fanatical ideologies that sustain these tensions. The resulting work, “Some People,” includes four complementary video installations as well as a series of limited edition Jacquard tapestries. One of the videos, “By Aporia, Pure and Simple (2012)” is in the collection of the IMA and several tapestries have been collected by the Mill6 Foundation (CHAT) in Hong Kong, and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, Tel Aviv.
More recently, the team was commissioned by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) to create a six-channel video installation that grapples with the complexities and ongoing repercussions of the 2008 financial crisis. The piece was part of an extensive group exhibition, curated by Denise Markonish, entitled “Suffering from Realness.” According to Markonish “artists are increasingly probing the notion of realness, using art to create moments of political resistance while also trying, difficult as it may be, to forge paths towards reconciliation.” In their project, “You’re Welcome and I’m Sorry,” Aziz + Cucher reveal the economic disparities polarizing the country, creating a visceral space that reflects on the often irrational forces that mold our political and economic systems. “You’re Welcome and I’m Sorry” will be on view at Gazelli Art House in London in 2022.
The installation takes the form of a Dadaist romp through the financial crisis, which began in 2008, and continues to be felt years later. It presents a group of costumed characters, wearing masks, absurdly long ties, and deconstructed power suits. Interspersed with these figures are images that evoke the specter of white supremacy along with grotesquely disfigured characters trolling the internet and feeding content to nationalist far-right websites. The work addresses economic inequalities that polarize our country and the absurd theater of recent politics through the creation of a visceral space that reflects on the mystifying and often irrational forces that mold our political and economic systems, and where the characters embody wildly divergent emotions: from menace to absurdity to despair to despondency.
Aziz+Cucher’s inaugural NFT is certified by Verisart, an award-winning blockchain certification platform. Designed to empower artists to tell the story of their work, the digital certificates include additional images, videos and documents. For collectors, Verisart’s patented Certificates of Authenticity (COA) form an integral part of collecting NFTs. They provide confidence in the identity of the artist and the verified history of the artwork.
Bidding for Aziz+Cucher’s inaugural NFT, You’re Welcome and I’m Sorry (Alternative Realities), closes at 1pm EDT on September 9.