Long Read

HI-NOON carves out a new online space for artists and collectors

© Yushi Li

“There is a palpable shift in the art world pushed forward by technology and global accessibility”

The trajectory of an emerging artist’s career was once almost wholly dependent on the outlook of gallerists, art dealers, and auctioneers. The process involved in gaining exposure and selling work was firmly rooted in the physical world ⁠— inclusion in art fairs, gallery shows, and auctions was crucial. These individuals and outlets heavily influenced trends and prices, affecting the work being made by both established artists and those seeking representation.

“At the moment we feel that there is a palpable shift in the art world pushed forward by technology and global accessibility,” reflect HI-NOON, an artist-curated platform for limited edition prints. “HI-NOON is part of that shift.” Launched in July 2019 at Les Rencontres d’Arles by Sophy Rickett, Rut Blees Luxemburg and Brenna Horrox, the platform currently features nine artists, selected for their experimentalism and conceptual clarity.

© Alix Marie

In recent years, the online art market has grown steadily: between 2013 and 2015 it increased by around 20 to 25 per cent. But, despite its expanded accessibility, the digital realm remains dominated by many of the institutions who monopolised the pre-digital art world ⁠— specifically the online iterations of major auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Artist-led platforms and those championing emerging practitioners are, however, on the rise, growing in tandem with image-led channels such as Instagram, which allows for the establishment of large audiences (including collectors) outside of the structures of the traditional art market. 

“Now is the right time for an artist-led platform that makes art available to a wider field of collectors with ease and enjoyment,” the collective observes. HI-NOON refers to itself as a global, grassroots network, an alternative to the institutional-framework that has given shape to so much of the contemporary art world. “Artists are often best placed to recognise the brilliance of other artists. Therefore, we hope for the future of HI-NOON to be an auspicious weather-vane indicating to our collectors the valuable directions of contemporary artistic production.”

© Rut Blees Luxemburg

“Artists are often best placed to recognise the brilliance of other artists”

© Sophy Rickett

The artists who feature on the platform represent an eclectic mix of photographic styles and explore a range of subject-matter ⁠— approaches that may not necessarily mirror mainstream contemporary trends. HI-NOON’s founders point to the work of Chooc Ly Tan — a French-born Afro, Vietnamese, Cambodian activist, DJ, and artist, whose performances and research take her around the world. 

Tan’s featured work, titled Rêve, Rave et Révolution, stemmed from the artist considering how these three concepts (translated as party, dream, and revolution) intersect etymologically and socio-politically. “Immediately, among the few common denominators that emerged, I could quote ‘transgression,’ ‘optimism,’ ‘collective experience’ and ‘transformation,’” she writes in the short text that accompanies the image.

© Chooc Ly Tan

The resulting photo-montage comprises image and text. Line-drawings, rendered in white, depict creatures battling against existential, gravitational, and cosmic challenges. In the top left-hand corner, a photograph of Tan can be seen clutching a handrail suspended above a scribbled picture of Europa orbiting Jupiter. “At the heart of this composition is a call to action and a tribute to activists, especially those who have had to fight white colonisers and supremacists,” reads the accompanying text. 

“She has such an impressive, on-the-ground knowledge and grasp of the current shifts and pressure points in the global art debate,” explains HI-NOON, whose platform also seeks to widen the pool of collectors investing in contemporary art.

© Eva Stenram

A study by Hiscox found that 23 per cent of millennials 23 per cent of millennials surveyed had never bought an artwork in a physical space.  A statistic such as this illustrates the potential of online platforms to reach a wider audience, and the influence they may have on contemporary taste. “The editions on HI-NOON are affordable to a wider segment of collectors, opening up the holding and appreciation of art to new and diverse audiences,” explain the collective. 

The platform, however, is far from reactionary. Rather than opposing pre-existing structures, it endeavours to explore the opportunities offered by new technologies. “HI-NOON is not about opposing but expanding, broadening, growing, unfurling,” they explain. “[The platform] is a proto-type and catalyst that builds on our experiences and knowledge, using newly available technology to develop and share our take on contemporary photography.” Ultimately then, it presents a more open and collaborative model for selling and collecting work, in which the constraints and limitations imposed by pre-existing structures disappear. 

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