Sign up for The Daily Reach and get all the news tailored to your inbox.
San Antonio Multimedia Artist Michèle Monseau did not necessarily want to be a pioneer of new artistic technologies when she applied to the Biennial Every Woman in New York, but she quickly found herself at the forefront of a digital art revolution.
After being accepted for the show, Monseau had her video Honey, Work transformed into NFT, short for non-fungible token, joining a wave of artists – and non-artists – converting their normally endlessly reproducible digital work into unique and salable items.
NFTs are the latest fad among collectors who appreciate unique items, such as famous Big Pharma ruler Martin Shkreli Wu Tang Clan’s 2014 single-pressing album for $ 2 million, Once upon a time in Shaolin.
There is a catch, however, when it comes to owning an NFT. In the 10 years since Chris Torres created the global meme Nyan’s cat, it has been viewed nearly 190 million times in its so-called “original” form on YouTube, but it has been sold as NFT in February for $ 580,000 to an anonymous buyer, who now takes pride in owning the only unique form of the meme.
Digital art, such as a JPEG, is essentially fungible – that is, easily reproducible – for anyone with a computer. An NFT is intended to print, or “mint” in NFT terminology, a single version that can be owned, bought and sold as if it were the Mona Lisa.
NFTs use the same programming technology behind cryptocurrencies, called blockchain – a digital transaction record that leaves a unique signature – one of the reasons they are sold using Bitcoin, Etherium or one of the many other virtual currencies.
Partly because of the novelty of the shape, TVNs quickly gained in value. A tech reporter for the New York Times recently attempted an experiment by transforming his Wednesday column on NFT to NFT. With a minimum value set at $ 850, the coin quickly sold in a bidding war for 350 Etherium units, roughly equal to $ 700,000, to a collector in Dubai.
NFT values can be serious money. Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sold a collage as NFT for $ 69 million at auction in March. Over the past year, the market has grown by 13,000%, with an aggregate value of over $ 2 billion.
Will Monseau see some of this market growth?
Mentioning Beeple as a relatively unknown artist before his groundbreaking sale, Monseau said: “They’re talking about a kind of bubble right now, but also in a way, it makes him a bit egalitarian – like anyone could. have NFT success. “
She sees more of an evolution than just a change in the way works of art are sold. “It’s this cryptocurrency market that is different from the regular art market. It’s made up of a different group of people who maybe see art in a different way. In this regard, it could be a disruption of the art market.
As a video artist, “you don’t really get into the commercial part,” she said, because video art doesn’t traditionally have a stable market like other works of art based on video art. materials, such as painting and sculpture. .
The introduction of NFTs in video art “maybe gives us a chance to sell more work,” Monseau said.
San Antonio has its own NFT gallery, NFT Art San Antonio, which opened in May with a physical location on Commerce Street. Of 12 works of art in its inauguration The Revolution will be digitized show, only two have been evaluated, and none have yet received offers.
Usually, the artist or gallery will set a minimum price, such as 0.25 units of etherium – equivalent to $ 500 – for Monseau’s Honey, Work, and the work is sold by auction in the hope of generating as high a price as the market will support it. One of the benefits that artists get from NFTs is that they can get a residual payment when the repossession is resold, which is not the usual practice for paintings and sculpture, where artists receive no money afterwards. the initial sale.
Beyond the business side, Every Woman’s Biennale curator C. Finley said: “I like NFTs because they are not hierarchical and there are no gatekeepers. , Similar to the overall approach of the exhibition, which runs through July 3 in New York and through July 9. in London.
The theme of the exhibition for 2021 is “My love is your loveWhich follows the thematic trail of what began in 2014 as Finley’s Whitney Houston Biennial – a play on the highly exclusive Whitney Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The theme for each year is based on a song from Houston.
“We are striving to bring out new voices in the art world,” Finley said in an email. “We are committed to celebrating unique and non-binary women [people] you can’t see in the museum.
When asked if the inclusion of NFTs in this year’s exhibition was an effort to showcase a wide range of non-binary, transgender, female, and other non-dominant artists to the NFT art world, Finley replied in the affirmative.
“Absolutely, I want to flood the NFT space with artists who might not be here without this opportunity.”