Meet Chile Con Carne: SuperRare’s Spiciest Space
Spaces are independent galleries on SuperRare that curate, promote, and sell artworks. Anyone can submit an application. The SuperRare Spaces are varied in sizes, philosophies, and levels of experience but all centered around the same mission: to push forward decentralized curation and promote crypto artists from all over the world.
Meet Chile Con Carne, the SuperRare Space run by artist and curator Epifania de Gracia. As the Space states about its philosophy, “historically chili con carne was cooked to celebrate victory in battle. Aztecs prepared tomatoes and chiles, the meat was to be the flesh of the conquistadors. Our story is all about that: Flesh and Resistance!” SuperRare curator Mika Bar On Nesher sat down with Epifana to get a better understanding of the story behind this boundary pushing digital gallery and art collective that celebrates erotism, womanhood. Their mission? To fight for an equal representation of women, LGBTQIA+, disidencia, and minorities into the NFT world. This SuperRare Space has a DIY grassroots spirit dedicated to challenging the status quo, which is what Web3 is all about.
Mika Bar On Nesher: Chile Con Carne is not only a digital gallery, but also an art collective. What did you see was lacking in the NFT space when you put together your Space proposal?
Epifania de Gracia: When I began to mint, I felt a bit lonely as a woman creating erotic cryptoart, I figured that corporeality was absent from the market, was misrepresented, avatarized, infantilized. There was no room for flesh, for stretch marks, overweight girls, onanism or rebellion! As a digital painter and Bella Artes lover, I wasn’t satisfied, I was seeking for more stimulation, more speech, so I began to look for peers, other subversive / unconventional artists who I could relate to. I started to encourage and help my friends to create their own wallets and adventure into the cryptoart world. From nothing I became in charge of a small group of motivated creators, and when I heard about the first Space Race I immediately saw the logic to create a Space where sensuality, identities and desires could be observed from another angle, far from taboos and merchandising. A virtual refuge for outcasts was needed so I ran 3 times, spent weeks without sleeping and reached a bunch of $RARE holders to present my project. It was the closest to a political campaign I had ever done, I held vote by vote until I won the third Space race!
To inaugurate Chile Con Carne Space I curated an exhibition named “Histeria Colectiva”, to immediately make a statement: re-appropriation of hysteria is a central concept of (sex positive) feminism, a protolanguage serving simultaneously as an index of forms of gender oppression and a space to stage resistance to it. I consider myself a sex positivist feminist activist, my art reflects it in so many aspects, I refuse to be a victim, the weaker sex, the piece of meat. I own my body, I’m proud of it, of all its imperfections – journey to acceptance wasn’t easy, Art was fundamental to achieve it, that’s where Epiphany and Grace comes! I own my pleasure and it comes first, I’m empowered enough to choose violence, pornography or even sado-masochism as paths for freedom if I wanted to. I repudiate censorship, my call is to liberate not to cancel, I advocate for inclusiveness, for tolerance. Because the Hysteria is collective as the struggles I was obsessed with by inviting as many talents as possible, to spotlight women creators, to bring new artists to the ecosystem. Artists who create unique and rare artworks.
“Collective Hysteria” could also be easily understood as a criticism of our convulsive epoch, taken as an invitation to calm down, to reflect further, to make love and not war! From Magnetismo and Cristina Vela‘s innocence to Oona and Iris Kauf‘s insolence, you meet Michelle Thompson with whom we built one of the first bridges between Spaces, her work as well as Margaret Murphy‘s one is a profound reflexion about identity, on how women are related with their image, on how they are perceived and perceive themselves inside the mold of our traditional western cultures.
Esra Eslen brings us to eastern frontiers of consciousness, reminds us how fantasies and fantasy are inextricably linked, how dreams are an integral part of our existences and why Poetry is vital. Poetry, a common thread of “Histeria Colectiva”, traversing the work of Donatelly, who transforms a simple kiss into a symbol of life, death, sin and mutation. Vanessa del Rey, a Marvel and DC Comic artist gives us her first crypto artistic work, an exclusive and NSFW woman (and her shadow) laying down offered and empowered. In a similar position but this time offered to herself, to her awakening, “Despertar”, of La Saló is one of the masterpieces shown in this exhibition, a radical animation made with a very classic Latin American line stroke. The first and last nod to sex positivism is found in the work of BER who, in addition to being a visionary artist, is a Neo-Reichian therapist. I know It’s a long list, can make you feel a bit dizzy, could even give you some Florence syndrome but I really want to use this tribune to call out collectors and the audience in general to explore, to risk themselves, to raise the stakes. A proper collection must include emergent artists, you have to bet on the future!
MBON: In your experience as an artist and a leader in the space, how is the Cryptoart movement disrupting the traditional art market?
EdG: I never bought into the showy vernissage mood. I believe if you don’t come from art school you will never feel really at ease visiting a traditional art gallery. Cryptoart on the other hand, doesn’t require a dress code or having to do small talk. Allows you to focus on the artwork, lets you spend whatever time you need to observe and understand it.
Discovering cryptoart, being a digital artist was a personal revolution. Before it, I couldn’t find a way out to commercialize my work, I was thinking of abandoning art forever and dedicate myself to a conventional 9 to 5 job. Instead I can now focus on creation, dialogue with collectors all over the world and I even have the chance to curate some of the artists I have always admired. I believe cryptoart will reach or overtake the volume of the traditional art market, a market more than contaminated by counterfeits, by administrative and physical limitations as transport and storage. Ease of use and transfer, transparency, legitimacy will bring massive adoption with millions of screens broadcasting art everywhere!
MBON: What is the story behind the name Chile Con Carne?
EdG: The Carne part is the most important, it’s our statement, it means meat, flesh, resistance! It refers to the Bodies, speaking about corporeality is a constant in Latam artistic expression. Explanation lies in centuries of abuse, from colonization to liberalism, bodies have been massacred. In Chile and all over the continent, bodies are missing, were kidnaped, tortured, raped, destroyed. Inhumane workloads crush them daily, prehistoric cults make them bend down, blame them, forbid them. Imposed standards elaborated in London, Paris or NY shame them because they don’t meet them and never will. They are crowded into unlivable housing, into transportations where all traits of intimacy and comfort are erased. Ill by food and chemicals long forbidden in the northern hemisphere. Humiliated by infinite debts and a forever guilt. Per contra into the flesh, into the carnality, there is also a findable escape to this fatality, an attainable enlightenment. When rid of the notion of sin, freed from marketing, carnality becomes resilient, capable of all kinds of mutations and connections. Blood pulsed by the seek of pleasure and liberation, genetically invaded by the need to survive, the flesh is the catalyst of all our desires and sensations, the unique proof of our humanity, made to dance, to caress, to feel, to desire. Sacrificed bodies become sanctified, they protect, embrace, perpetuate, they create and resist.
The Carne part is the most important, it’s our statement, it means meat, flesh, resistance! It refers to the Bodies, speaking about corporeality is a constant in Latam artistic expression.
— Epifania de Gracia
MBON: How do you select your artists? Are they all a part of your direct community or do you seek out like-minded creators? What advice do you have for artists who want to be represented by your Space?
EdG: Have you seen the TV show “Mozart in the Jungle”? Like Rodrigo (Gael García Bernal), I curate with blood! I think the job consists of picking sincere artworks, pieces with strong speech and aesthetic statements. No matter the medium, I try to offer an off-the-beaten-track and sensual selection, away from trends, from hashtags. I consider that almost everything can become beautiful and attractive, it depends how you look at it, the flow with which you represent it. I love to seek for another kind of beauty, less common, more distorted, far from the traditional canons. What I really love about curation is that it connects me with universes I couldn’t reach alone as an artist, and takes me out of my comfort zone. I could give you the example of my friend Maritei, she made me discover the codes of Kawaii Art, you cannot imagine how baroque and pink are hiding a message of rebelliousness and insubmission. Yes Kawaii is feminist!
I’ve met all the artists first through the internet, less Donatelly, she is a Latam night icon with her drag character Catarsis and I met her on a dancefloor. Everyday I spotlight artists on Chile Con Carne Twitter & Instagram accounts “ ” means that your Art is hot and that I want to work with you!
MBON: Tell us about any exciting upcoming drops or events we can look out for? Unlike some other SuperRare Spaces, you run and fund everything yourself. Who is helping you operate the space? Tell us more about what role the community plays in your Space?
EdG: Like many others I have more ideas than resources, for example, after talking to you Mika, I was left with the bug of opening a physical space, I’m now trying to find the funds to transform my apartment into a gallery! This year I’ve dedicated myself almost 100% to Chile Con Carne, I finance everything with the earnings from the sale of my paintings, sometimes I had to front alone delays or lack of compromise, not everyone understand yet cryptoart’s potentials, but despite the difficulty, Chile Con Carne is my baby, I project its space as I would with a IRL gallery, I want to constantly offer new temporary exhibitions, You should expect to see a lot of nipples, a lot of flesh, I want to get the most out of it from Web3 censorship resistance! Right now and because celebrations are coming I’m preparing something special with Luluxxx, her art makes you want to dance and drink champagne. What better way to begin 2023 than with her glamor and sensuality ?
It’s really important for me to finish this interview shouting out to my fellow Playboy x Sevens grantee, Oona. She has been present since the beginning, she understood before everyone the Chile Con Carne concept and has been on the front line to defend it. She is actually presenting “Milk to Mint” in Art Basel Miami, a performance you cannot miss!
I want to send the biggest thanks to who is behind the curtains, my friends Elisabet Montenegro and Jacqueline Herrera, they two are an unfailing source of inspiration and guidance, I couldn’t have done it without their wise advice and their beautiful writings.
SuperRare editor Oli Scialdone considers the social experience of provenance and its relationship with community in the Web3 space.