Artek Halpern-Laurence <em>Upload me now!</em> 2022–23; colour screenprint, drypoint, laster print collage and fibre-tipped pen; ed. 1/15. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2022<br/>
© Artek Halpern-Laurence

Artek Halpern-Laurence

Artek Halpern-Laurence
(b. 1998, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Artek Halpern-Laurence is an emerging artist who established Warrandyte print studio Huge Mumma Spice Merchant in 2016. His printmaking practice spans various techniques, including drypoint, stone lithography, risograph, screenprinting and modifying office laser printers, and often incorporates reclaimed and repurposed materials.

For the vv, Halpern-Laurence has created a multicolour screenprint responding to visions of the ‘Metaverse’ and ‘Web3’ currently being peddled by Facebook, which founder Mark Zuckerberg described as ‘an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it’. The piece was inspired by a quote lifted from a Meta keynote, where the presenter declared that ‘we are already living in the Metaverse’. To overcome our ‘clunky and rudimentary’ interactions with this hybrid physical-and-digital reality, the company proposed using VR headsets. Halpern-Laurence gently satirises the techno-utopianism of Silicon Valley, whose bold claims regarding new technologies either misrepresent pressing real-world concerns, such as climate change and human inequality, or ignore them entirely. His playful take on the monthly calendar turns our days into a game of snakes and ladders, including reminders to ‘Breathe! Connect to nature! Work! Walk the dog!’, parodying the platitudes spouted by productivity culture.

Halpern-Laurence studied photography, printmaking and sound at RMIT University. When he began his degree in 2016, he became fascinated by the possibilities of printmaking, and established Huge Mumma Spice Merchant that year, producing hand-screenprinted T-shirts and works on paper that he has sold at markets around Melbourne. The studio hosts workshops and collaborations that demystify print processes and focus on printmaking’s ability to create connections between people by making art more shareable and accessible.