2 months ago
It seems to have become the talk of the Art town recently: the NFT. Is it the future of Art? Is it going to ruin our environment? Will it enable artists to make a living of their Art in this digital age? Is it an elaborate pyramid scheme? Or is it just something that is so f*cking new that we actually still have no clue WTF this is all about? A new exciting adventure for me and I don't know where this'll lead me, but I guess the only way to find out is to take a leap into the Unknown!
So I minted a WTF NFT and wrote the following Manifesto:
A few years ago I spontaneously doodled the WTF Venn diagram in my sketchbook. And in that same moment I had a serious WTF revelation: This drawing actually fucking exactly seemed to capture the Zeitgeist of the times we live in right now. WTF.
So I turned it into a painting in order to give it more weight. Lots of my paintings take hundreds of hours to reach completion, but I have always believed that everything needs its own time to become its perfect self. Sometimes it takes hundreds of hours, but sometimes just 10 minutes is more than enough.
I posted it and it went viral almost instantly! Many popular sites reshared it, which meant countless comments and hundreds of thousands of likes. It was spreading all over the internet. WTF.
And I wasn’t the only one who felt that this really captured the Zeitgeist. As American art magazine Juxtapoz wrote: “Upon putting Dutch artist Dadara's now infamous "What The Fuck" Venn diagram painting on the Juxtapoz Instagram, it took about three minutes to realize that it was going to be on our greatest hits list. For the last few years, the pulse of our contemporary lives has thrumbed with the tone of "WTF"; politics, communication, celebrity and art are evolving so rapidly that Dadara's image summed up the current mood.”
I also realized that not everybody liked it. It became pretty controversial. I actually enjoyed reading some of those comments: "You just made me waste three precious seconds of my life by making me look at this", “I can’t believe WTF is considered art these days”, "That isn't art... you're a liar. People like you kill art". WTF.
Something else was also happening: People were copying it, remaking and remixing it (sometimes just plainly retracing the original, sometimes also filling in the blanks), putting it on T-shirts, etc. My credit as the original creator became obscured. As it was absorbed into the whirlwind of the internet it became, as they say, a meme. WTF.
As memes became a new phenomena in our digital age, artists began to grow their audiences exponentially through exposure from the internet, however it also became increasingly more difficult to be financially compensated for one's hard work. Exposure alone won’t pay the bills…
So I learned about the NFT - something that could possibly be what I have been on the lookout for - for a very long time. A new development which might actually empower artists. The NFT, an innovation from the decentralized technology world, suddenly became the talk of the day.
Many questions were (and still are) spinning inside my head: Does digital proof of ownership have more value than physical ownership of an artwork? What is the environmental impact? Will this compensate the value created by artists, who now post their art on social media platforms solely in exchange for likes? And WTF are these wildly fluctuating gas fees?
And then, a single NFT by Beeple Crap sold for 70 Million. WTF.
Back in 2011, as an artist I started my own bank, the Exchanghibition Bank, which seemed a good idea back then - when governments allegedly had no money to share with the Arts, however they did have Billions to bail out the banks. The Exchanghibition Bank investigated Value in times when seemingly the word “value” became synonymous with “financial value”. One of the main reasons to start the bank back then was my question: why the media cover the topic of Art only when an artwork sells for a mindboggling amount of money? What does it say about the value of that piece of Art? And now the same is happening again with Beeple Crap. WTF
NFT’s are a relatively new digital format to store, access and interact with data. One day we may look back and see them in the same mundane light as we today view a CD Rom, a vinyl record, a book, a Jpeg etc. However, for me as an artist, witnessing a new method of communication evolving and growing is hugely fascinating. A time to think about all possible implications. A time to discuss, learn, and wonder – also trying to figure out WTF might happen because of it in the future - after the initial hype cycle has faded into memory.
So after the initial step to turn WTF into a painting, in our ever changing society WTF itself keeps evolving and now feels like the right moment to turn this idea into an NFT.
A WTF NFT.
In my humble opinion this world needs Art now more than ever. And, it would be amazing if NFTs could become a way for artists to regain the ownership of their creations and enable them to actually make a living and create even more Art.
After all, EARTH without ART is just WTF.