EMMA STERN (B. 1992)
signed and dated 'emma Stern 2023' (on the reverse)
graphite and charcoal on paper
1238 x 812in. (30.5 x 21.5cm.)
Executed in 2023
Donated by the artist to MOWAA.
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Lot Essay

Christie’s and the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) in Nigeria are collaborating to raise funds for MOWAA and its initiatives to create a cultural ecosystem in Benin City, based on the art of the past, present and future. A number of artists have generously agreed to donate original works of art to the auction, including Yinka Shonibare, Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Lakwena Maciver and Victor Ehikhamenor. Proceeds from the sale of the works will go towards MOWAA initiatives including the presentation of the Nigeria Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia, 2024—commissioned by the Governor of Edo State and also curated by Aindrea Emelife—and the 20-acre Creative Campus, including the Rainforest Gallery. Designed by the Dakar-based architecture firm Worofila, the Rainforest Gallery will be dedicated to showcasing Modern and Contemporary art, as well as historic exhibitions.

Emma Stern’s work deploys her formal background in traditional oil-on-canvas painting to achieve a kind of contemporary portraiture made possible by 3d software. Using tools intended for game developers to create virtual female models that serve as her subjects, her work emphasizes and exacerbates the apparent inclination towards pornographic (or at least porn-adjacent) representations of women in 3d communities and gaming culture. Persistent themes include subversion, perversion, fantasy, and a unique kind of off-brand feminism reminiscent of pop-up ads of the “You Won’t Last 5 Minutes in This Game” variety.

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