A five-day NFT exhibition is coming to Manchester this weekend

The exhibition will feature artists from regions such as Latin America, Africa, Eurasia and the Middle East.

By Emma Davidson | Last updated 16 February 2024

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Image: Digital Natives 2021

Taking over Canvas on Oxford Road this January, a new exhibition titled ‘Unbanned’ will explore the infamous banning sanctions that NFT marketplaces imposed on artists based on their country of origin and/or geolocation.

Featuring work from global practitioners, the exhibition takes place across five days from 22nd – 26th January and has been curated by founder of CrypticVentures, Edua Sykes, as well as philanthropic gallerist, and owner of the Adelia Art Gallery in Liverpool, Amir Soleymani.

Opening with a preview party for press and ticket holders on January 21st, the shortlist of artists considered for Unbanned will be in the hands of regional ambassadors, including the founder of Electric Artefacts, Aleksandra Artamonovskaja (Eurasia); musical artist, Ernesto Cisneros (Latin America); illustrator Ralph Khoury (Africa); and abstract artist, Arefeh Norouzi (Middle East).

Image: supplied via Unbanned

Banned artists can also directly apply to be exhibited at Unbanned. Online applications will be overseen by critically acclaimed TIME Magazine artist, Parin Heidari, and can be submitted through creative hub, JOYN.

“I thought it would be important to have a clear curatorial system that would allow us to properly identify most, if not all, artists that were banned. By having ambassadors that already have an extensive community of artists in their regions, whilst opening an application form, we can ensure that no one is left behind,” said Edua Sykes, creator of Unbanned.

Lebanese artist, Ralph Khoury, also added: “The only form of curation amongst NFT marketplaces should be based on the merit of the art and nothing else. It is ridiculous to ban someone based on their nationality or where they live. It’s important to have exhibitions like Unbanned, to counteract the ridiculous sanctions implemented by these big marketplaces who disregarded artists for geopolitical reasons that have nothing to do with art.”

Image: Digital Native 2021

Following the preview night, Unbanned will be open to the public, who can attend by registering for a free ticket.

The five days will have a programme of activities, as part of the “Artists Supporting Artists Scheme”, which will have a crossover of communities that will allow for a wider conversation on the topic, as well as on the power of selling art as NFTs, and how artist’s lives have been affected by the banning situation. 

Having takeover days from NFT projects such as The Pals by Liverpool artist Sean Webster, and a meetup by NFT Public relations, the week promises to be the ideal way to start the year for Web3 professionals, and the curious, in the Manchester area. The event also marks Canvas’ first art exhibition after its opening its doors back in 2022.


Unbanned NFT exhibition

Date: 22nd – 26th January
Venue: Canvas
Price: FREE – £15.86

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