Queer liberation on the blockchain: Exploring the artists of SuperTrans and ICONS

Queer liberation on the blockchain: Exploring the artists of SuperTrans and ICONS

Queer liberation on the blockchain: Exploring the artists of SuperTrans and ICONS

Lynden Thrash profiles artists featured each exhibition and examines the power of queer art.
5 hours ago

Pride is about celebrating the queer community’s unique beauty; it’s about embodying the spirit of defiance that revolutionaries used to fight for their rights and inspire change. Although Pride Month is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the history and artistry of queer people, it should ultimately serve as a reminder of how to respect and support members of the community all year. Exhibitions like SuperTrans, curated by Laurel Charleston, and ICONS, curated by Nicole Ruggiero and Sam Clover, are exceptional resources to gain insight into the depth and complexity of queer experiences. Though queer people have seen a rise in visibility, they continue to face discrimination and legislation which tells them to be ashamed of who they are, especially those in the trans community. SuperTrans and ICONS consciously counteract the narrative that regularly makes queer people feel like they need to be fundamentally changed, like they are something “other.” The artists curated for each of these shows not only speak to the diversity of the queer experience, but also demonstrate the innovative contributions the community has made with NFT art. 

Of the many shared experiences represented in ICONS, Svitlana Zavialova and Molly O’Brien’s work “HER Language speaks to growing up in an environment where one feels stifled and finding a covert means of expression. A crucial component to the lived experiences of queer people includes an aspect of becoming, a period wherein someone transitions from a state of fear and self-doubt to one of feeling loved for being their true self. Growing up in Russia, Svitlana understood there was a truth about herself that needed to remain hidden for safety, so she devoted herself to martial arts as a means to escape her environment. Though she didn’t pursue the sport as an outlet for expression, when someone exercises absolute dedication to their craft, a particular kind of beauty emerges and becomes its own language. She noticed a subtle sensuality to her movements, and over time she recognized her practice as a means for becoming, a private way to meditate on the truth of her attraction to women. “HER Language” depicts Svitlana’s abstracted language of queer love in the form of Wu Woman, and Molly’s presence behind the camera deepens the counternarrative and asserts the legitimacy of queer love. It speaks to the challenges queer people face all around the world in their struggle for acceptance and their journey to self-love.

Growing up as a queer Black person in the Christian church, Tyler Givens also experienced the struggle of living in an environment where they didn’t feel like they could authentically express themself. Tyler’s work has an iconographic quality that reflects the religious art they were surrounded by, but they repurpose those symbols to craft a narrative that defies the doom and gloom many queer kids are taught growing up. Through the use of symbols like wings and halos, Tyler shows a clear reference to angelic beings, but they make the distinction that these figures are genderless conduits for the greater good. “PROLOGUE” celebrates the life they’ve created for themselves in adulthood, being able to reclaim religious symbols to speak more broadly about themes of violence, love, and revolution. They are inspired by artists like Tim Walker and Nick Night for their abilities to craft entire narratives in a single image, and Tyler has historically pulled from past experiences to create something more universally available to the queer community. Now they focus more intently on contemporary life experiences, telling stories that reflect the complex lives of queer people while further celebrating the authenticity of those lives.

Just as Tyler Givens repurposes symbols to craft a narrative queer people can more readily relate to, Rita Eme represents a queer paradise for viewers to project onto. When queer people live somewhere not conducive to growth, safe spaces are all the more valuable to escape and develop self-love. Rita’s work is reminiscent of the unique feeling of euphoria that can happen when queer people find somewhere they are celebrated instead feeling continually rejected. Disorienting but captivating, “FANTASY LOVE” is a surreal landscape that inspires a sense of wonder and reflects Rita’s desire to develop a space where all feel welcome. The community is often united around stories characterized by struggle and trauma, but it’s something that ultimately doesn’t define its members. Rita’s work reminds us there is triumphant joy in creating something that represents the particular beauty and perspective of queer people in spite of that struggle. Rita’s improvisational process leans into the magic of making something out of nothing, and there is power in subverting heternormative society with queer fantasy. 

When considering places of refuge, gay bars are keystones of the community and drag queens are their patrons saints. Often at the forefront of change, drag artists like Sam J continue a tradition of trailblazing when they entered the NFT space. At the intersection of performance, fashion, and make-up artistry, drag provides a valuable means of self-discovery for many who don’t conform to their assigned gender. It also translates well into an NFT, where the drag artist’s body becomes a kind of interactable sculpture. In a world based heavily on the gender binary, “The Event” explores the depth and complexity of what it means to exist outside of that system. Often incorrectly thought of as “in-between,” Sam J contributes to the critical component of visibility when representing the diverse facets of nonbinary expression. In an interview, they remark how especially proud they are of artist like Sarah Zucker and Fewocious for how they have shown support and demonstrated strength in the trans community. It can’t be understated how impactful it is for queer people to find others who share their experiences, and Sam’s work offers an expressive insight into the lives of nonbinary people.

Many artists selected for the pride curation speak about how their relationship with gender exists entirely without regard to the binary system, so instead they focus on a more existential relationship with their body and its limitations. Most of those who don’t belong to the broader trans community take for granted the relationship they have with their bodies. It takes a high degree of self-awareness to authentically reflect on one’s gender identity, and it takes an extraordinary amount of bravery to challenge that norm and exercise authority over one’s gender expression. It’s one of the things that makes the community so special: queer people subvert the cultural standard of what is perceived as good, right, and beautiful, and supplement it with something that is entirely their own.

Zach Krevitt describes his experience with the puppy play community as particularly liberating to this effect. He talks about “queering” the body in a more universal sense of the word, dissolving the limits of his physical form, and, in turn, the barriers between people, to uncover a broader feeling of love and connection. “Superpositions of Truth” takes what he learned from documenting the puppy play community and explores how those core concepts interact with the lenses of observation. Many who subvert heteronormativity are more acutely aware of attracting attention everywhere they go. At times liberating and revelatory, at other times scary and dangerous, being “visibly queer” makes navigating society exceedingly complex. Inspired by the legendary club kids from the ‘90s, Zach uses a ghillie suit and CV dazzle makeup to engage the dichotomy of standing out with pride and blending in for safety. Those not belonging to the queer community often incorrectly perceive makeup and clothing as a superficial or surface-deep means of expression, but Zach’s body of work demonstrates how they allow queer people to reflect and explore a deeper sense of truth.

Internet culture adds another layer of complexity to the journey of knowing one’s self, and for many who are unable to safely experiment in the real world, it provides an effective avenue of exploration. For Kate the Cursed, being able to create an in-game avatar helped catalyze her journey as a trans woman. The gaming community can be an especially volatile and unwelcoming place to queer people, but it’s also a common means of escape for many who struggle to exist happily in their bodies. As Kate puts it, “Digital avatars can help us to understand just who we are and where we’re going.” Following in the footsteps of Jamie Fay Fenton, a trans artist credited with the invention of glitch art, Kate uses the oscilloscope to create mesmerizing videos that prompt viewers to pause and meditate on the nature of identity. Especially as trans people around the world continue to face discrimination, Kate is proud to be included among those gaining the recognition and visibility they deserve as leaders in the artform. 

Ikaro Cavalcante shares a similar experience of self-discovery through the medium of video games, but as a nonbinary person, they are inspired more specifically by liminal spaces in technology. Citing how files on the computer are “alive in between the RAM and the storage drive,” Ikaro feels a deep connection to how files are taken apart and reassembled, often existing in a state of transition. This emphasis on computer science makes their work perfectly suited to engage unique ideas more specific to the NFT space, but their art remains stylistically connected to their upbringing in Brazil. From the neon lights that reference queer night life to the bioluminescent plants that express escapism through nature, Ikaro’s body of work effectively represents the many facets of their lived experience. “Flowers of non-death” was their first time portraying hidden feelings about troubled relations they had in their childhood, and their work with SuperRare, “Virtual Memory,” includes a flower which operates as a visual gateway to that genesis work. Much of Ikaro’s queer experiences are represented in covert ways, but there is an evident depth to their expression that provokes viewers to dig past it’s glossy surface.

Although many people struggle with their relationship to beauty standards, many queer people find the need to cultivate their own concept of beauty that is largely independent from those conventions. Rejecting the very nature of beauty standards, Sasha Katz seeks to create harmony between realism and affectation. From more incisive works like “Languor” to more vulnerable works like “Kiss me quick.” We are all dying, she represents both fragile vulnerability and unbreakable strength, challenging the objectification of women and asymmetrical gender standards. Historically, women facing barriers to success have gone to such lengths as to create masculine monikers to be taken seriously. “In the heat shimmers the cat snores deeply” represents Sasha’s persona, Boris Luxe. Now just an old tool for a patriarchal world, the work denotes the freedom she feels because of the respect and attention she has garnered in the world of NFTs. It’s inspiring to consider her art among the visionary women who contribute to an authentic representation of feminine strength and authority. She continues to inspire dialogue and asserts, unapologetically, a more real representation of the human form as intrinsically beautiful.

Art is an invaluable resource to understand the depth and diversity of queer peoples’ lived experiences. It’s the perfect avenue to not only listen to those who need to be heard but also to appreciate the particular beauty of their expression. Purchasing art is an excellent way to support queer artists, but something as straightforward as looking at art and discovering its meaning contributes to the growing sense of acceptance the community needs. Shows like ICONS and SuperTrans not only declare the value of queer voices, but they also provide the resources to actively and attentively listen to those voices.

20

Lynden Thrash

Lynden Thrash is a nonbinary artist and writer who grew up in Metro Atlanta. While obtaining their B.F.A. in drawing from The University of Georgia, Lynden sought ways to exercise their proclivity for writing by working as a publications intern with The Georgia Museum of Art. Having the time and space to study the collections closely helped them realize their passion for writing about art. After graduating, Lynden moved to Chicago in search of somewhere they could thrive being their authentic self. From teaching to painting murals, they have always found ways to engage their natural love of art. Now they are in search of freelance work to develop their writing portfolio.

FutureThink

Portraits

Negative Space

Miami vice: Bitcoin and decadence

Miami vice: Bitcoin and decadence

Above: CryptoBabes by the author

Miami vice: Bitcoin and decadence

What happens when crypto begins to look like the institutions it sought to overthrow? April's Bitcoin conference in Miami gives us some insight into the phenomenon of crypto assimilationists.
8 hours ago

I WANTED A VAPORWAVE DREAM BUT ALL I GOT WAS THIS SLEAZE-SHIRT

I never expected my weekend would conclude with me crying at Miami Beach Pride, but as the tears came welling up while I stood on the sidewalk about two blocks away from the diner where I got breakfast, the moment seemed fitting. My last major Pride event was long before COVID lockdown began–I typically dislike big corporate celebrations, and most years I avoid New York’s famous parade down 5th Avenue. I’m not really about humoring cops or tolerating the cisgender heterosexual women screaming YAAAS KWEEN at drag performers while simultaneously shooting glares at any lesbian who looks a little too masculine for their comfort. But after the time I had during my week in Miami, the rainbows and glitter slapping me across the face came as an unexpected reprieve. It stung so good.

Miami Beach Pride by the author

Miami Beach Pride by the author

I landed on Wednesday afternoon. The next morning, when I left the Dream Hotel in South Beach to scavenge for coffee and a croissant, three men cat-called me. The leader had his chest puffed out like a little boy with something to prove, and I made the mistake of glancing his way for a moment too long. He lurched after me as if he meant to follow (thankfully, he didn’t). I tried not to look too obvious as I put distance between us, and his laughter trailed behind me. Men have this different way of harassing butch lesbians on the street. It’s as if your masculinity threatens them, or like they view it as a challenge. The subtext always seems to be I’ll fix you or I’ll show you your place, even if they don’t say it out loud. 

Of course, that wasn’t the first time–I’m used to people who shout slurs at me on the street. Or women who glare at me in bathrooms and point me out to their boyfriends as I leave. Teens at the bodega laughing–gesturing my way and whispering, What is it? The occasional refusal of service in shops and restaurants. When I was younger and still tried to go to straight bars, sometimes men would want to fight. Even so, Puffed Out Chest and his friends felt more real. I was alone in a new city over a thousand miles away from home. The whole experience was so isolating.

On my way back to the hotel, a fourth man gave me an up and down and muttered just loud enough for me to hear: “I’ll show you, baby.” In that instance, the city’s reputation as a gay haven shattered. I couldn’t get the citizens of South Beach to stop glaring at me all throughout the week. 

After that I tried to avoid leaving the hotel alone, which didn’t prove difficult; my friend and colleague, Vinny Valenzuela, arrived in Miami Beach that day, both of us there to cover April 2022’s Bitcoin conference. Even with someone by my side, men in polo shirts, sitting outside at restaurants, had their eyes trained on me in displays of aggression. “Did you see that guy?” I’d ask Vinny while waiting for a ride or trying to cross the street. And she’d say, “Yeah. He was glaring at you. What’s his deal?”

CAPITALISM BUT MAKE IT CRYPTO

Miami might have a gay reputation, but it’s more recently become known as the home of a different scene: crypto. Plenty of shops accept cryptocurrency, there’s a coin named for the city, and lovers of blockchain have started to flock there. Miami is so crypto friendly that Mayor Francis Suarez, a Bitcoin fan, even unveiled artist Furio Tedeschi’s take on Wall Street’s Charging Bull, an armored mech sculpture with laser blue eyes, reminiscent of something out of “Transformers” (Tedeschi worked on one of those movies). And while New York’s symbol of institutional finance has become synonymous with wealth inequality, Tedeschi’s bull seems to say, same, but make it edgelord. It is not a symbol of blockchain’s revolutionary potential or a subversion of banks and brokers and capitalists–instead, it’s a symbol of imitation and assimilation, just with a different filter. 

The whole trip, I found myself having conversations with Uber drivers and bartenders, Miami-based NFT collectors and gallery people, who explained to me how the cost of living in Miami has historically been lower than places like New York or Los Angeles. But more recently, the price of taking up space is on the rise. When I spoke to locals, the service industry workers among them sounded worried. Most crypto people were not. 

I guess when you have enough in your wallet, you’re not concerned about where rent money’s coming from.

Screenshot from @davethewave

In some ways, the last decade’s great experiment with crypto has opened doors for legions of people, especially outside the United States. But in other respects, crypto has failed, and nowhere to me was that failure more evident than at Bitcoin 2022. While plenty of enthusiasts still believe in Bitcoin philosophically and technologically, while people have invested their faith in the idea that Bitcoin is the key to liberating us all from oppressive financial systems, the Lambo-driving, designer-wearing, coke-snorting elites who flocked to Miami that week were a perfect visual representation of how dire the situation is really becoming. To start, at the time of the conference, one bitcoin was worth about 38k USD, and while there’s certainly room for debate considering crypto’s volatility, popular crypto analyst @davthewave has predicted that in 2022, bitcoin will reach 100k USD (though the current bear market has perhaps said otherwise).

This is to say, there’s a lot of money to be had in bitcoin. Or rather, there’s a lot of money to already have in bitcoin. If you’re just starting now, and you’re not already wealthy, you can maybe save up, sink a couple hundred dollars in, probably recoup your investment and profit a little if you play the game enough. But in 2021, the National Bureau of Economic Research found that 27% of bitcoin wealth is controlled by about 0.01% of bitcoin holders. This disparity was reported widely by outlets ranging from The Wall Street Journal to  CBS News to Gizmodo. To place it in perspective, according to recent Federal Reserve data, the top 1% of income earners in the United States control about 32% of the nation’s wealth, meaning that for a community claiming it wants to disrupt the financial establishment, wealth inequality among bitcoin holders is looking frighteningly familiar, if not worse. Most bitcoin whales invested early, watched the value of their tokens skyrocket, and were then perfectly positioned to keep hoarding. And now, because the cost of entry is so high, the only people who can take the bitcoin route to adequate earnings are those who have wealth to begin with. What those people really mean when they say they want to disrupt the financial establishment is I want to disrupt the financial establishment, but only if I can stay rich. It’s not a vibe.

There’s a popular sentiment in certain pockets of the crypto space, especially within bitcoin, amplified by influencers and Web2 social media. Need tuition money? Invest in bitcoin–I did! Need to pay rent? Invest! Wanna escape your dead-end fast food gig? Invest! The results can be disastrous for those who don’t have much money to throw around. The attitude is akin to what Boomers have spent the last three decades telling Millennials (and now those even younger): It was so easy to buy a house when I was your age! If you don’t have enough money to do it, it’s because you’re not working hard enough. Entire sections of the industry have cropped up around the cult mindset that bitcoin will save us all. Every time I see #WAGMI online I want to break something. We will not all make it. As long as a majority of the world’s population lives under corporate-centralized capitalism, it just isn’t happening unless the advances enabled by blockchain are paired with real systemic change, and to be frank, I doubt that blockchain will be Bitcoin. I’ve heard people talk about change. I’ve seen people try. But I didn’t even catch a glimpse of that in Miami. From where I stood, it all felt pretty bleak.

GASLIGHT, GATEKEEP, I DON’T WANNA BE SUED BY SOPHIA AMORUSO

While in Miami, I attended an event with Vinny in which a panelist told the audience, “Decide what you want, and it will happen.” The statement had us both scoffing. CryptoBabes, the organization that put it on, aims to provide educational resources for women in crypto and Web3. In practice, it was a networking event for girlboss types who liked bitcoin: modern, career-minded, professional women interested in making money and climbing that corporate ladder. Spicy. I brought my DSLR and Vinny showed up armed with the Notes app–we were determined to find a good interview. 

The sea of pink powersuits transported me to Buzzfeed listicles, North Face and Ugg combos, those hipster Disney princess memes everyone loved ten years ago for some reason. We were the only attendees with visible tattoos. Even the party’s look, nestled into an outdoor space with perfectly trimmed grass and Instagrammable pools, signs placed nearby asking party-goers not to swim, screamed live laugh love-core, with bunches of millennial pink balloons accenting the dated aesthetic. Even the CryptoBabes logo, on display throughout the party, used that one cursive font emblematic of early Pinterest, reminiscent of an affluent cishet couple’s out of touch gender reveal party (before it sets the state of California ablaze).

At the bottom of the Eventbrite page, in parentheses, the organizers had included, “men are welcome,” and while plenty of men indeed showed up, no one at the party looked like me–the vibe was idealized cisgender heterosexual femininity, downright assimilationist visions of womanhood inherently entwined with capitalism. Succeeding as a woman is easy! Drop tons of money to perform gender the way advertisers tell you to, then value your personal success and wealth over collective liberation. But this time, make it crypto! As far as I’m concerned, it’s all just different shades from the same Kylie Cosmetics palette.

We arrived about halfway through a panel discussion featuring women professionals in Web3, bombarded with a mix of toxic positivity, buzzwords, and some serious discussion about the place of women in corporate crypto. After the speakers wrapped up, Vinny and I tried to get an interview with one of them, but we could barely even slide in to wait–the panelists were mobbed by attendees looking for the sort of connection that could lead to a salary. One panelist sat down with an audience member who was crying. I overheard another walk someone through what to say during an interview. It actually took so long to speak to someone that we went to the bar, got a round of drinks, and returned to find that the crowd had barely thinned. I spotted someone in a shirt that read Jesus loves Bitcoin on the back and pointed it out to Vinny. We both thought it was hilarious. Speaking of cult-like spaces in crypto, these evangelicals thought they were preaching the good word. 

CryptoBabes by the author

CryptoBabes by the author

CryptoBabes by the author

CryptoBabes by the author

When we finally managed to speak to one of the CryptoBabes panelists, the topic of the old guard came up. I asked Daniela Henao, COO of crypto-analytic platform Defy Trends, about the biggest barriers for marginalized people in Web3. She made it clear that even people who view crypto as an investment opportunity are weary of what the space is in danger of becoming. “If we’re not intentional about it, we’re just going to be building the same things as before,” she said. I found her interesting, personable, and intelligent, with more substance than what the event promised. I genuinely wanted to hear what she had to say. But as we discussed the future, the interview got interrupted at every turn by people trying to network. 

“Is it okay if I finish this conversation first?” Daniela asked fawning fans more times than I could count. When I phrased a question by asking about women, queer people, and people of color in Web3, someone jumped in and shouted, “I’m bisexual and a person of color!” as a gateway into the conversation, clearly not understanding that we were conducting an interview. She didn’t say anything to myself or Vinny, directed all of her comments towards Daniela, but when I made eye contact with our interloper for a moment, she frowned (or was I reading too much into it?) as if she felt we had overstayed our welcome. Daniela very gracefully requested that she wait a few minutes. The fervor of the audience was nothing short of blind and religious.

CryptoBabes by the author

RICH MEN DON’T HAVE TASTE

“It occurred to me that of course the intersection existed between the rich boys club and Bitcoin lovers–the venn diagram isn’t exactly a circle, but it’s getting close.”

Later that night, we attended an event that on the surface seemed antithetical to CryptoBabes, but perhaps had more in common than was immediately apparent: The Maxim Magazine Bitcoin party. As a concept it felt especially absurd, and if there is anything I love, it’s absurdity. I remembered seeing the word Maxim in red across the covers of magazines on newsstands circa 1998, a banner over photos of near-naked women in compromising positions. While researching for coverage of the party, I learned that Googling Maxim Magazine prompts the search engine to issue a warning across the top of the webpage: Some results may be explicit. Turn on safe search to hide explicit results. I always thought of Maxim as the trashy version of Playboy, and although its website does feature a vertical simply titled “Women,” I mostly found articles about vacation spots, luxury timepieces, finance, TV, and cars. It’s certainly more of a lifestyle publication than an erotic one, offering up the image of men who try to buy their tickets to sophistication.

I was forced to watch a man dressed in all white dancing with a woman who wore a matching outfit. She looked younger than half his age. They moved together in a way engineered to ensure his crotch could rub against her thigh–their positions looked so uncomfortable and unnatural that I was sure they had choreographed the whole thing in advance. These men, while not the same individuals, could have been interchangeable with the man I saw dancing. Video by Nathan Beer.

 The venue was nice of course, the outdoor part featuring trees, a pool, lights, and cabanas, and an indoor space housed a roped-off VIP area and a gorgeous wooden bartop. I almost forgot it was a Maxim party at moments, but then I’d remember after seeing a bikini-clad server strut by, dressed like a Vegas showgirl and about to deliver someone’s bottle service. I didn’t expect many real Bitcoin enthusiasts to attend the party, but in that respect I was surprised–I ran into someone from New York who hosts crypto events, and even encountered some NFT collectors I met the previous day at a brunch party thrown by SuperRare and Y.at. Did I mention? Maxim definitely covers crypto. It occurred to me that of course the intersection existed between the rich boys club and Bitcoin lovers–the venn diagram isn’t exactly a circle, but it’s getting close. 

By the time we left, I could admit that the novelty of the whole thing charmed me. It was a Robert Crumb comic all dressed up in a suit and black tie, someone doing shots of an expensive aged single malt from his rich daddy’s liquor cabinet. An Ivy League chapter of the Young Republicans. Not camp, but not not camp, either. Camp without self-awareness. Even so, I knew that if I walked into a club and it resembled the Maxim party, I’d leave. And, true to form, we eventually ended up at a snug gay bar bumping club remixes of Madonna. The place wasn’t my usual vibe–a little too Hell’s Kitchen for my tastes, with closely trimmed beards and muscle tees abound–but still more palatable for me than the unnecessary show of cishetero masculinity on display at the Maxim party. I sipped my well drink, then listened to my boots smack against the sticky concrete floor as I walked. A boy, thinking I was a man, stopped me to try and flirt in a classic queer space comedy of errors. There’s a lot of talk in crypto spaces about community, but in that gay bar where I came as a stranger, I belonged. I belonged unequivocally, with no caveats or translation, no price of entry except my experiences. My presence was accepted so easily, because queer bodies understand the cost of taking up space, out there in the world, among the types of people who read Maxim on purpose. I haven’t found anything in the crypto community like that yet, only in specialized spaces for marginalized people who band together because we see the ways Web3 is coming to resemble everything it wanted to crush–ultimately, people are still running the show, and they carry with them lifetimes’ worth of socialization, of feelings, of biases. All anyone can do is try to be better, but that isn’t a strategy at all.

AND NOW WE PRAY

Miami Beach Pride by the author

Being queer and existing in the crypto space aren’t mutually exclusive. But something about the excess of the Maxim party, the rigid gender performance encouraged at CryptoBabes, the people I spoke to about the value of art and artists, the men who catcalled me, the fact that I felt so incredibly out of place in most of the crypto spaces I visited in Miami, built up and up until I found Pride. It was an incredible release, a great antithesis to everything. Spiritual, even. I kept returning to religion while considering the people who believed so ardently in Bitcoin. At Pride, I noticed someone on a float holding a sign that read Jesus loves you, bitch, and immediately I thought of the Jesus Loves Bitcoin shirt. Jesus loves you, bitch is a powerful statement for people ostracized from churches, devout families, entire communities (most religious queer people in my circles aren’t Christians, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty out there). The sign’s font was a flowing cursive, not dissimilar to the CryptoBabes logo, but it was handwritten with a sharpie, not in a display of performance and branding but rather an authentic and personal expression. 

“I’m over capitalists cosplaying as radicals and reproducing the very issues that drove everyone to crypto in the first place. Fuck the rich. Bitcoin for the people.”

I’m not a religious or spiritual person, but religion has something in common with Pride which has something in common with Bitcoin. People want to believe. They want to be part of something. Tensions were high when it came to Miami Beach Pride. The issue at the forefront that day was the Parental Rights in Education Law, whose propoents used faith to justify their attempts to legislate queer people out of the lexicon. There was no question about what people there believed in. 

In contrast, I remain unconvinced that the culture of Bitcoin includes room for radical change, and I worry it’s dragging other parts of the space down with it. Earlier this year I remember hearing about a party: models held Bored Ape cutouts and men in ties mingled under night club strobe lights. And while this isn’t to say all Bitcoin lovers are bad, harmful, or in it for the wrong reasons, too many clearly are. Currency is soulless, when you get down to it. Blockchain is a tool. Your faith shouldn’t die in the coin, but live in the people reimagining its possibilities. I care about what crypto can do for unbanked people. I care about using DAOs to distribute mutual aid. I care about how good artists can bypass a system that would traditionally exclude them. I care about the potential for blockchain to revolutionize the way we manage documents and store information. I care about what it means for the distribution of green energy. Are there people in the Bitcoin space who want to deliver on the potential of the technology? I’m sure. But the space needs to clean house. I’m over capitalists cosplaying as radicals and reproducing the very issues that drove everyone to crypto in the first place. Fuck the rich. Bitcoin for the people.

20

Oliver Scialdone

Oliver Scialdone is a queer writer and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. They earned a dual-MFA from The New School, and their work can be found in Peach Mag, ImageOut Write, and elsewhere. They host the reading series Satellite Lit and they're the Associate Editor at SuperRare.

FutureThink

Portraits

Negative Space

New artists on SuperRare

New artists on SuperRare

New artists on SuperRare

Your weekly introduction to new artists on SuperRare.
3 days ago

Contemporary artist from South Africa with work featured on MTV, Booooooom, Juxtapoz, High Fructose, Vimeo Staff Picks, Pictoplasma and SupersonicArt. Exhibiting in galleries worldwide since 2007

Aelita

Edition 1 of 1

Breaking through the firewall with sly manouversHand drawn mixed media illustration4000x4000px printable .png (2022) 

1996

Edition 1 of 1

view into the past  

Visitor

Edition 1 of 1

This theatre of discovery examines the relationship between humankind and nature, life and death, and transformation. 

Pop Art Street Art NFT Art

Reflections Warhol

Edition 1 of 1

On the back of the sell out 3,333 Reflections collection, this unique animated Warhol edition celebrates Rich Simmons first solo art exhibition in New York with Taglialatella Galleries.

am an Artist. 

Freak Monsters

Edition 1 of 1

started challenge for myself and drew freak monsters every day for 100 days. This is the final stage of the “feak monsters” collection. Is it being freak fault? Or is it gift? I’m tired of the mediocrity of people. I’m tired of anatomy. I’m tired of patterns. That’s why created freak monsters. I don’t have to draw two eyes, nose, mouth when creating monster. am completely free to create. That’s why freak monsters are my beauty standard. I’m unlimited when drawing monsters. It’s freedom for me. 7000px-10000px 300 DPI  

Artist Creator of Smoochies

The more the likes, the less you are…

Edition 1 of 1

Throughout the last decade, digital artists (like myself) used several platforms to pave their way into the realm of Art. But after multitude of rejection from art curators and galleries, we’ve turn our hope into foreseeable success in Art through the mechanic of “likes”. However the ideology behind gathering the likes of strangers online made us believe that we’ve finally being valued for our art. But in the end we’ve actually turned into someone we can barely recognized. Few are the ones that can balance both the integrity and notoriety. For some, the “likes” has covered the essence of why we’ve actually started all of this in the first place. “The more the likes, the less you are…(you)”

Artist

FORESTA

Edition 1 of 1

FORESTA is my genesis NFT piece. FORESTA was born from the need to confront myself with the world of art in motion, the environment of this work was not recreated in computer graphics but was made with recycled materials and filmed with drone on green screen and then mounted digitally. For the first time in my work the human figure has been included. A sort of Adam discovering the new digital world.

In 2019 when international hype materialized around Hidden Portraits, Hermes had been creating the collection for over 10 years. Their visual content, figures disappearing behind masks, perfectly and almost clairvoyantly directly reflect the current era. Today, Hermes art has been featured in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, collaborations with Christie’s, and museum invitations to create works from pieces in their collections. 

Hidden Batoni I.1

Edition 1 of 1

Lubomirska, painted in 1780 by Pompeo Batoni in Rome. To gain classical education, one of the most important travel destinations for aristocrats of the 18th century, was Italy. They came to experience the highly appreciated painting of the Italian Renaissance. The desire to be photographed during one’s travels existed even before the invention of photographyThe painter Pomepo Batoni recognized this desire and offered portrait paintings to travelers, who could then pick them up upon their return trip. He is considered the inventor of the tourist portrait. This sitter purchased just such portrait on her trip through Italy, and also had several copies made to pass on. She had herself depicted as Polyhymnia, the Greek muse of sacred poetry, music, and dance – note the scroll of sheet music. My modification picks up the vibrancy of the music. To emphasize the connection between head and body, her hair ribbon now extends over the entire architecture of her highly fashionable wig and ends at her chestThis display was only allowed at the time because she had herself depicted by the painter as mythological figure. This portrait so beautifully combines certain coquetry along with the personal statement that the young lady has been on classical educational journey. 

Wildstyle Eastern Star

Edition 1 of 1

Credited as the originator of Chinese wildstyle, Jahan veered from writing in English to crafting his wildstyle in Mandarin in 2002. Jahan does not know if he started Chinese wildstyle but he is now associated with that look. This artwork features Jahan’s Chinese name (羅傑瀚)in his inimitable style. For two years Jahan laboured to translate his wildstyle into 3D sculpturehis name buried in the complexity of the strokes. 

exploring the unknown  

the odyssey of self reflection

Edition 1 of 1

searching for who am led me here, chaos swallowed everything around me and now i embrace it. Searching for your true self is one of the hardest things human can do.
28

SuperRare

SuperRare is a marketplace to collect and trade unique, single-edition digital artworks.

FutureThink

Portraits

Negative Space

How black artists in Web3 are celebrating Juneteenth

How black artists in Web3 are celebrating Juneteenth

Above: Viradescent Lure (izzakko, 2022)

How black artists in Web3 are celebrating Juneteenth

Black artists on SuperRare reflect on Juneteenth and shine a spotlight on artists they think deserve recognition.
1 week ago
Juneteenth only became a federal holiday in 2021, but African Americans have celebrated it since June 19, 1865, when the southern rebellion collapsed in Galveston, Texas, two years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves within Confederate states. It marks a pivotal moment in American history.
To celebrate Juneteenth this year, we’ve asked Black American artists on SuperRare for their reflections on what this historial holiday means to them and how they are celebrating it.
Diana Sinclair and Isaac “Drift” Wright are commemorating Juneteenth by curating the second edition of The Digital Diaspora which will be held at Samsung 837 in New York. This is the first event of its kind and scale celebrating the enduring achievements of Black artists in Web3 and the art world at large. For them, The Digital Diaspora is as much about representation as it is about celebration. They want to ensure that Black artists are visible in Web3 and that their contributions to its burgeoning culture are cemented on the blockchain.
For Peenpoon, it is important that we further the spirit of Juneteenth in Web3, shedding light on systemic injustices that affect Black artists in the space and making room for them to thrive. V01D, the DAO he co-founded with Akai Morton and Lauren Washington is hosting Lucid Futures on Juneteenth at LUME Studios in New York. Lucid Futures is a transcendent celebration of the past, the present, and a future they are actively manifesting as a DAO.
Both The Digital Diaspora and Lucid Futures make the statement that Black artists, despite being a minority in Web3, have managed to establish cultural resonance by using their platforms to amplify each other and by leveraging blockchain technology to cement their importance in the story of the NFT art movement. For Yosnier, Black artists in Web3 know how significant their voices are in this space and how to use them to champion each other everyday, but especially on a historic day like Juneteenth.
For other Black artists, Juneteenth is about remembering to claim space in the world to be unabashedly oneself. Izz wants Black artists to continue bringing their authentic selves to Web3, and much like Luz, to remember how much the Black community across generations has had to overcome to make this a reality for this generation. That being said, Terrell doesn’t want Black creatives to lose sight of the joy Juneteenth brings and reminds them to celebrate in good company. 
We also asked Diana, Drift, Peenpoon, Yosnier, Izz, Luz, and Terrell about their insights into other talented web3 artists who also deserve the spotlight today. Here are their recommendations:
Curator’s pick and recommended by Luz 
All I ever knew (Latashá, 2022)
“Latashá is a powerhouse creative that, in my opinion, has single-handedly added value and popularity to the music-NFT space like no other artist I’ve seen. It’s inspiring to see so much happening in web3 as a result of her efforts and I’m truly inspired every time I see one of her various drops sell out on all platforms (purrr💅🏾). I think that she would bring a whole new level of creativity (musically) to SuperRare.” 

Luz

Recommended by Diana Sinclair and Isaac “Drift” Wright

Femme Queen (Niall Ashely, 2022)

“Niall Ashley is amongst the most talented and hardworking artists in the space. They’ve worked to teach themselves countless skills in order to build out the world they envision in their mind. Their work is endlessly expansive and they are a personal inspiration to me when it comes to pushing personal boundaries and comfort levels.”

Diana Sinclair

Recommended by Peenpoon
Chronic (Bobbi Cai, 2022)
“Bobbi is an extremely talented queer black artist and one of the most emotionally honest artists out there. Her work speaks to that.” 

Peenpoon

Recommended by Izz
015 (Rozwell, 2022)
“Rozwell is a major inspiration to me. He’s worked with many artists and musicians that thousands of people look up to today and has been consistent. He has heart, integrity, and a passion that transcend web3.” 

— Izz

Recommended by Yosnier
Untitled (Theo Manifesto, 2022)
“What I love most about Theo’s work is how emotive it can be, in so many ways. There is this sense of loneliness and abandonment that lingers throughout their work that just resonates with me completely. I think Theo might be one of the few artists to have ever genuinely inspired me, and I think they could serve the same purpose for so many other people, not just in Web3, but all over the world. They’re seriously one of my favorite artists and it’s been a complete pleasure watching them bloom.”

Yosnier

Recommended by Terrell
Rose Golden (Goliath, 2022)
“Goliath is a friend I made early in this space, before I ever made a sale. I knew about his art before I knew him so it was cool to meet him and see that the quality of person matched the quality of work. He’s someone that I have always and will always look to for inspiration. Goliath’s work is beyond amazing. The way he uses colors, concepts, and compositions is unreal. He’s one of my favorite artists.”

Terrell

28

Lee Knight and Linda Dounia Rebeiz

FutureThink

Portraits

Negative Space

New artists on SuperRare

New artists on SuperRare

Above: “data privacy” by stockcatalog licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

New artists on SuperRare

Your weekly introduction to new artists on SuperRare.
1 week ago

I’m a STORY-TELLER and a WIZARD, but mostly I’m culture lover and traveler. currently Working as an Art director/Concept Artist in the Entertainment industry for more than decade.

TUCHIS

Edition 1 of 1

Early in the day when the city is still asleep, a digital wave embraces the air and rare smell of pink ink emerges from the streets. The silent artist is at her best, speaking no words yet birthing endless visions. TUCHIS is there.

Luxury in motion – only for the eclectic and refined tastes – FYI the works online have sound so oomph up the speakers 

Salvation Kit Premium 2.0

Edition 1 of 1

Cost-effective, PREMIUM, convenient and stylish salvation for all. Including Insta-Pope Xtra, Anti-Sin Suppository Nano etc., for all your guilty conscious needs. It has NEVER been easier to gains absolution. RESULTS MAY VARY. Dadaist, surreal academic conceptual single-channel video artwork with audio, also starring the artist herself. One-of-a-kind old school outsider artist piece, funny as f*uck (?) and piercingly accurate condemnation on how we have departed from our spiritual selfin digitalized modern world where most things can be purchased yet longing for something bigger, more collective than an individual cannot be fulfilled – and often not even wanted. As curiosity, the lucky buyer with sense of humor can be in touch with the artistto request something tangible to go with the NFT in question – the work is defining moment in her portfolio, dividing the emerging and established career in two, launching her style and professionalism into new dimensions. Therefore she is open to offers, to give a tangible memento alongside with the purchase, for sentimental reasons. Feel free to negotiate.

Genre bending Filmmaker and Cryptoartist with creativity built into his DNA.

The Rise Of Vitalik

Edition 1 of 1

Vitalik rises from the turmoil of crypto crisis and WW3, during the tumultuous period of 2022to fight against the horror and perversity of an internet dominated by single company (META), and to empower technology as a weapon of financial liberation for our civilization.

can’t draw. 

Witnessing Ascension

Edition 1 of 1

Standing in awe, witnessing the passage from one world to another.  

Multidisciplinary visual artist 

Butterfly Sculpture

Edition 1 of 1

Butterfly Sculpture symbolises the metamorphosis of our creative world. The butterflies and the colour orange are both representations of transformation. The movements and shapes reference the monumental evolving nature of our artistic spacehow it is in flux and its importance in the history of art. The work also embodies the collaborative essence of change.  

Visual Artist Photographer  

We run this mother

Edition 1 of 1

Strength and femininity in many societies, mine included, are often deemed as opposites, controversial and oppressed. I wanted to represent women in position of powerbeing all strong and confident. But maintaining that touch of femininity and beautyThis photograph presents my friend as the model, it was shot on the roof of her house. It’s bit of challenge to shoot freely in public, as my work is usually considered controversial and goes against the beliefs of the people in my city and the culture of my country in general, so my work is almost shot exclusively on the roofs of my own house or my friends’s.

The Gardeners Daughter

Edition 1 of 1

From young age she watched her father attempt to steer the wild inclinations of the flower and plants in his garden. Over the years the patch of dirt grew into lush garden, sometimes uninvited inhabitants came in besides the carefully picked new seeds. But under the watchful eye of the gardener, every new entry into the garden was guided to the right place for it to grow and blossom. As the gardener passed, the garden grew wild, the energy of life invigorated in an attempt to replace that has been lost. She stands there overwhelmedamong all the chaos her father has sown. The question on her mind: “How will be able to do this on my own?” The garden answers: “You don’t have to do it alone” In memory of Corné van Delft Faber (1966 – 2022). friend and mentor. 

VERSUS

Edition 1 of 1

Why do we always have to compare and separate everything? Let’s take the time today to really look and appreciate each part for itself. Perhaps, you’ll come to see that everything is question of complementarity and not opposition. If you didn’t succeed, try again. Prejudice n°1: Print vs digital

Blissful Meltdown

Edition 1 of 1

created this piece while visiting Barcelona at THE start of 2022. was heavily inspired by the city. It’s energy, museums, and overall design. Art on every corner, mix of the 21st century and narrow Medieval streets. This piece depicts color and transformation.  

Jasmine is professional practicing artist who has taken her art to number of mediums-paintings, sculptures, large-scale public works and now NFTs. Whatever her choice of art form, Mansbridge brings a refined and meticulous hand to the work; her deliberation and contemplation are evident at all times. The work provokes thought and wonder and gives the viewer the chance to apply their personal storytelling, as they unpackthe geometry and portals of Mansbridge’s imagined world.

GO WHERE THE LOVE IS

Edition 1 of 1

It is joy to be able to share my animated NFT here on Superrare with you all. This piece started as hand drawn, hand painted work based on poem wrote with the same title (below). also have composed the music to accompany it. I have been professional fine artist for over twenty years, primarily painter, also make large scale sculptures and installations which feature in my animations. have been making NFTs for almost 12 months – mostly on Known Origin. If you would like to see the #bts of my practise feel free to check out my instagram – @jasmine_mansbridge There is larger file availible for the collector of this piece. If that is you please do say hi so can thank you! Additionally if you have questions about this work please feel free to get in touch. Jasmine ________________________ Go where the love is Where you are wanted Do not put Your pearls before Swine Do not sell Your soul For those who Would put it aside Go where the love is Where you are wanted Do not put Your heart Out to Dry Find your people Find your tribe Love those who love you love them And love them Hard.
28

SuperRare

SuperRare is a marketplace to collect and trade unique, single-edition digital artworks.

FutureThink

Portraits

Negative Space