Every now and then, a buzzword starts to trend in the art world and brings with it a storm of ideas, some fail, while a few do change the artscape. Rewind to a few months, many of us didn’t know what NFT stood for, and today, we’re all talking ethereum wallets. Just last month, the debate ruling the social media channels was who became the first UAE artist to sell an artwork as a NFT? Leaving the debate aside, let’s jump straight into understanding the world of non-fungible-tokens and its future.
At World Art Dubai, October 2020, artist Amrita Sethi had launched her NFT portfolio on a platform called Terra Virtua. “About three years ago, I created a conceptual art, which I called Voice Note Art(c). As a multimedia and tech artist, I bring words and sounds to life, injecting meaning, visuals and audio and technology into my art in order to tell a story,” says the ex-banker, who recently sold her latest NFT for $10,000. She recalls how when she started out, she had to produce prints to sell but now the buyers can purchase the art with exciting possibilities with augmented and virtual reality, “NFTs come with the attributes of originality and scarcity, making them as attractive and valuable — just like a physical artwork.”
Artist Kristel Bechara recently sold seven of her artworks as NFTs. Her series, Beauty in Diversity and DeFi, are available for purchase only via crypto collectible tokens at an NFT marketplace, with the first sold piece depicting her expression of Satoshi Nakamoto, the presumed pseudonymous individual who created Bitcoin. “It’s a powerful technology and needs to be watched closely — early adopters will reap the benefits,” she says. “Also, it will educate more people about cryptocurrencies, block chain and smart contracts, which can have an impact on their future financial decisions.” She adds that she wanted to participate in the movement as soon as she learned about it. “For years, I have had to explain to people that art produced digitally is not any way inferior to artisanal traditional art and both should be appreciated in their own way.” Kristel is now accepting payment via cryptocurrencies for online-offline sales, and all the artwork purchased from her studio come with an NFT certificate, which will be optional for clients with crypto wallets.
Sisters Grimm, a creative partnership between ex-Royal Ballet ballerina Pietra Mello-Pittman MBE and Grammy-nominated composer Ella Spira MBE, are geared to drop their first NFT artwork, celebrating the unique diversity and beauty of the seven emirates. The proceeds from the sales will be used to develop their performing arts programme and regional youth art initiatives. Interestingly, a recent discussion on the Instagram handle, @dubaiartseason, too was on NFT, with artists wondering if the same would be the future of buying art. Time shall tell, but for now one can safely announce that NFTs have captured the world’s attention.