While the traditional institutions of the art world are still making head or tails of the NFT phenomenon, leaders in the world of tech are already building new models for longevity. At the forefront of this push is Sydney Xiong, director of APENFT Foundation, which unites art and finance in the metaverse by supporting novel NFT projects and acquiring significant NFT artworks.
APENFT Foundation, which sponsored The Artnet NFT 30, sees a world in which traditional art and NFTs coexist, expanding the art conversation rather than polarizing it. In keeping with those core beliefs, APENFT Foundation has established an already impressive traditional art collection valued at over $150 million and including works by Picasso, Giacometti, and Warhol. It is also initiating a residency for digital art creators. With a new year just begun, we decided to catch up with Xiong to see what she thinks the future has in store.
What is the APENFT Foundation? What does it do, and who is it for?
APENFT is the world’s first NFT art foundation dedicated to bridging the traditional art world and the virtual world while building the next generation of NFT infrastructure and an entertainment and cultural ecosystem. We do this by collecting culturally significant artworks and NFTs and by supporting well-established and emerging artists working on projects at the intersection of blockchain and creativity. I believe that art is for everyone and NFTs have the power to democratize the existing art world by reaching a whole new audience of both creators and collectors. The traditional auction houses are tapping into the space by selling NFT artists’ works. According to a Sotheby’s 2021 report, 78 percent of NFT bidders are new to the auction house and more than half of them are under 40.
As director of the APENFT Foundation, what do you do? What is a typical day like?
My main responsibilities include APENFT’s art acquisitions, collection management, and curatorial planning and implementation. I usually start my work very early in the morning, by checking emails for 30 minutes. Very often I go from meeting to meeting all day long, therefore I have to make plans and prioritize work based on importance and urgency in the morning. I work until very late and sometimes even have meetings with international partners at midnight due to time zone differences. But no matter how busy I am, I always ensure that I have time to research some new NFT art or newly launched NFT projects. It’s important to keep learning in this fast-changing field.
Who are some of the artists you find most exciting today, and why?
I enjoy artworks by Pak and Fewocious and believe that their works have value and significance, which is the main reason why we collected their works. I think the engagement Pak has with NFT art has been a marvelous interpretation of the democratic spirit of the crypto community. I also discovered some aspiring artists from an open call we recently hosted. I would love to encourage everyone to see their works in the Cryptovoxels exhibition that will take place, opening on January 25.
Some people believe that NFTs will “kill” traditional art? The APENFT Foundation recently has acquired a number of very traditional artworks, by artists from Picasso to Giacometti. Do you think the age of IRL art is ending? Or how do you believe NFTs and traditional art will coexist going forward?
I don’t think the age of IRL is ending and, in fact, the art world will only be more inclusive and diverse because of the advent of NFTs. I believe that NFTs and traditional art will definitely coexist in the future and we are already seeing these two worlds merging together. It is also important that art is seen and appreciated everywhere, which means having both a virtual and physical space to showcase the artworks will be equally important. That’s why APENFT Foundation plans to curate a range of online and offline exhibitions in the upcoming year. Our next show, in collaboration with Liveart in Shanghai in January, will feature our NFT collection and winning pieces of the open call “Second Life,” which concluded successfully last month. Simultaneously, a purely digital version of the exhibition will exist in the metaverse in our APENFT Museum in Cryptovoxels.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I love that NFTs and blockchain space is changing all the time so that there is always something new to learn. I am really passionate about learning new things, and I consider myself very fortunate to be at the forefront of the industry and be able to talk to some talented people in the field.
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