Kenny Schachter Has a Message for All You NFT Skeptics: Crypto Art Just Paid for My Dope New Apartment | Artnet News
It’s now more than four years since the introduction and subsequent paroxysm of non-fungible tokens, and the art world is still suffering a bad case of sour grapes lingering like a rotten smell left behind in an elevator.
Among the worst killjoys is Brad Troemel, who hawks his vitriol on Patreon, which bills itself as a site that “helps creators and artists earn a monthly income by providing rewards and perks to their subscribers.” For forking up to $600 per year to Troemel in his top subscription tier, you not only receive the “chance to win gallery-exhibited art”—which I’m guessing didn’t sell during its first outing—you also get the opportunity to pay him for a studio visit!
At the most modest tier ($5 per month), meanwhile, you gain access to lowly “first come first serve studio visits” plus Art World Report videos, one of which you can watch for free on YouTube. So, what’s it like?
With a snarky smile and singsong-y delivery fit for a QVC evangelist, Troemel launches into a blanket denigration of all things crypto, NFT, and art market-related. There are many valid observations peppered throughout his 40-minute invective. For example, in many respects the NFT game does indeed resemble a “pyramid scheme within a pyramid scheme that requires investing in speculative crypto currency for the chance to speculate in luxury art.” He gripes that holders of crypto hoodwink others into buying Ethereum to mint NFTs in the futile hope that they too can strike it Beeple-rich, creating the impression that the whole charade is legitimate by saying they are empowering artists to take control of their destiny and prosper—a mirage, at best. But well-observed as these points are, they are lost amidst the tide of sweeping generalizations.
To whit, Troemel maintains the original crypto investors—he uses term hustlepreneurs—are only perpetuating a con game and that most artists will ultimately lose money. My looming 2021 tax return begs to differ—and I’m just a hapless writer/curator/artist/
Yes, there are inexhaustible series of inexhaustible NFTs that are in fact poorly disguised substitutes for unregulated financial securities that get day-traded (sometimes intra-day-traded in a span of minutes), with JPEGs merely acting stand-ins for stock certificates in a pump-and-dump cash grab that resembles a digital mosh pit. But! More significant artists are entering the fray at a rapid clip (see below) as the field expands beyond what is still the nascent stages of a vast future marketplace.
Troemel further laments that NFTs are infinitely reproducible, so how can they be valuable? Well, so are Cindy Sherman photographs, David Hockney iPad drawings, and silkscreens pulled by Richard Prince—and no one seems to cry afoul at their valuations often totaling well into the millions. Although it may seem effortless, the same time and toil often goes into making digital art, JPEGs or otherwise. It’s just a new medium, with digital artists no better or worse than painters painting paintings.
But Tromel cannot shake the notion that the art world has been suckered into propping up crypto, and he chalks up the problem to two root causes, one of them being a crisis of connoisseurship in the art world, with American museums losing control of taste due to the debased spending habits of collectors.
Moving on—time to focus on the positives, too, and they’re almost too numerous to mention when it comes to working artists. Martin Lucas Ostachowski, an artist and internet chronicler has compiled the definitive history of blockchain art (both before and after NFTs) points out that some artists are even using the medium for activism. “Mexican artist Lucho Poletti for instance, analyzed propaganda art and used its language to create multi-language artworks to educate about cryptocurrencies,” he writes.
Simon de la Rouviere, meanwhile, created This Artwork Is Always on Sale (2019), which requires the owner “to pay an annual 5 percent patronage fee based on the last purchasing price,” Ostachowski writes.
Then there’s artist Jonas Lund, who launched his own Jonas Lund Token (JLT), which is broken up into 100,000 shares to gives owners—shareholders, really—the chance to vote on the future of his practice. “Similar to a corporation, one share equals one vote and owners of the tokens become part of the Jonas Lund’s board of trustees and will be consulted each time a strategic decision needs to be made,” Lund’s gallery, Roehrs & Boetsch, states. “By creating 100,000 shares that gives each shareholder influence and agency over his artistic practice, and giving up his majority share, Lund is interested in subverting the traditional power structures that informs the contemporary art world.”
These are entirely new ways of making art, and they take into account new opportunities and realities. Alysia Courtney Davis, who works under the name 8bit_titty, is a multimedia artist focused on Artificially Intelligent generated imagery. Themes of identity and sexuality permeate invented situations and memories. As part of her process, her artist statement was created by an online generator (maybe I should write my articles in the same fashion). Some platforms are also trying to take into account bigger-pictures problems: The Tezos blockchain, which claims to make no adverse environmental impact, could be a model for the future of crypto currencies and NFTs alike.
On a less happy note, Heiss was transferring two CryptoPunks between the museum’s wallets when he accidentally sent them to an irretrievable ETH address. The two Punks, worth a fortune, are now forever stuck in the smart contract address of Larva Labs, the Punks’ creators—a digital no man’s land where they are both alive (i.e., viewable online) and dead (they can’t be moved… ever). So it goes on the blockchain.
I wouldn’t be me if I neglected to mention my own efforts in the field, most recently “METADADA,” which inaugurated the new Crypto Kiosk of Nagel Draxler Gallery in Berlin when it opened last week. Richard Prince termed my installation (in an Instagram comment) “post place.”
This content was originally published here.