Borrowing a concept used in Silicon Valley, the New Museum in New York City is hosting DEMO2023, where artistic and technical creators' work will be on display for viewers and investors alike. The public festival comes from NEW INC, the first museum-led cultural incubator conceived as a not-for-profit platform for furthering the museum's ongoing commitment to new art and new ideas. NEW INC members and other artists and designers will share their work with the public from June 21, 2023 to June 23, 2023.

Artist, researcher and New INC Director Salome Asega explains it's the ideal platform to showcase artists' work. "The festival is an annual event to celebrate and platform the ideas and projects our members have been working to push forward all year long," she shares.

The multi-day, multi-site festival is anchored by the New Museum and five satellite showcases taking place at various partner organizations and spaces around New York City: Pier 17 at the Seaport; CARA (Center for Art, Research and Alliances); La MaMa Galleria; Dunkunsthalle and ONX Studio. Composer and performer M Lamar (Laverne Cox's twin brother), Yemi Amu, founder and director of Oko Farms—a farming education, food production and research hub in Brooklyn, New York—artist Hassan Rahim and more will engage in panels and performances to further illustrate the questions the members are engaging across art, design and technology. 

Asega shares more on the evolution of DEMO2023 and her own artistic endeavors in relation to her Ethiopian background.

EBONY: How did DEMO2023 come to fruition?

Salome Asega: NEW INC has traditionally held an evening-length Demo Day where a select few of our members presented their works in progress to an invite-only audience of funders, curators, creative directors and other professionals who can help propel their projects to the next level. I found it essential to make the exciting conversations happening at Demo Day reach a more public audience, especially as key festivals and conferences supporting hybrid and emerging practices started to dissolve during the pandemic. 

Salome Asega. Photo: Jeremy Grier
Salome Asega. Image: Jeremy Grier.

What will people experience during the festival?

There's so much to see and do and DEMO, but here are a couple of highlights: Each day at the New Museum starts with a musical performance. On the second day, M Lamar will perform a doom spiritual about black holes, a score he's been developing with our Creative Science Track Member Dakota Gearhart. Yemi Amu, founder of Oko Farms, will talk about how to farm with fish. Hassan Rahim is closing the festival with a keynote about his graphic design practice and studio 12.01 AM. Alongside the talks at the New Museum, audiences can venture to showcases and exhibitions across the city, which include "Emergen-C Archive," an exhibition exploring non-traditional forms of archiving, and the Creative Science Showcase, an outdoor exhibition of science-fictional works exploring water on the Seaport's Pier 17. 

How does this project align with your own creative vision of technology?

I'm interested in leveraging the power of collective imagination to step into futures that feel plural and inclusive. Many of our NEW INC members move with this spirit of collectivity and a desire to design better tech futures that don't center shiny, new gadgets and products but instead center people and community. The NEW INC members are asking big, tough questions about the social and cultural impacts of technology and our built environment and designing with care. 

What message do you hope is parlayed and received through this experience?

I hope our audience leaves knowing that the futures we want to live in are ever-present and near. There are creative people working quickly around us to realize a world that centers on sustainability, inventiveness, collectivism and culture. 

How does your Ethiopian heritage influence your art?

As a child of immigrants, I grew up with a broad understanding of art as not just preserved in cultural institutions but also existing in our everyday. From coffee ceremonies to how we represent ourselves through clothing, there is art and design, beauty and utility at both small and large scales.