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It’s no secret the crypto industry has a representation problem.
And that means that so too does the nascent crypto-art world, according to the founders of the digital art collective GXRLS Revolution.
“Regarding the lack of visibility of women, the state of crypto art is much worse than traditional art,” curator, collector, and co-founder of GXRLS Revolution Annelise Stern told Decrypt.
Stern, Jessy Jeanne, along with three other curators, Joséphine Louis, Léa Duhem, and Marie-Odile, selected 25 female and non-binary artists to create artwork for the occasion.
Exploring the theme of identity, the artworks offer a wide range of genres, inspirations, and techniques.
Jenni Pasanen created a Pegasus-inspired artwork combining digital painting and AI, while Elni Tomadaki exhibited a drawing paying homage to Magritte. Megan Laurent took another point of view with her work mixing autoportrait photography and AI.
Opening the week of International Women’s Day, the NFT exhibition “I am…” became a hub where artists, visitors, and collectors could gather to dive deep into the crypto-art world
By promoting female artists only, GXRLS Revolution wants to compensate for the lack of visibility they usually suffer from.
“A comparison tool that I like is the following: last year, the contemporary art market reached a new milestone. Among artists under 40, women are at the top of the rankings. Nevertheless, in Web3, on, for example, there must be eight women in the top 100 artists,” said Stern.
The latest NFT project from the co-founders was thus more than just presenting works from underrepresented artists.
It was also an investigation into why the world of crypto-art still suffered from so few female artists.
”I believe that men act in a group, collect each other’s artworks, without thinking too much,” said Jeane, a co-founder of GXRLS Revolution, artist, curator, and founder of Art from Future DAO. “Or, for some they, are sexist.”
A few months ago, they created a list of all the women NFT artists to prove that there isn’t a lack of women in the field either.
What began as an excel file quickly ballooned into a 280-page book, cataloging female artists.
Nevertheless, they recall having received harsh criticism for their project, particularly for curating women-only exhibitions.
“We promote women artists only for highlighting their value as possible role models for more women who dare to take the plunge,” insisted Jeanne. “But our events are open to everyone, men are welcome.”
NFT art finds friends in high places
For the “I am…” exhibition, GXRLS Revolution had the financial support of Jean-Michel Pailhon, a French collector and formerly an executive at Ledger.
In parallel with his professional activities and managing his digital and physical art collections, he co-founded a physical and online art gallery in Paris called Achetez de l’Art.
“As we regularly seek collaborations with curation teams, I studied GXRLS Revolution's previous exhibitions and I found it very interesting with emerging and talented artists,” he said. “I like their approach, and I already collect the artworks from certain artists who are represented in the IHAM Gallery’s exhibition. I thought it was important to help them so that they could get started and not stress themselves out about the financial production part.”
Moreover, he sees it as a way to promote diversity. “As crypto-art is an offshoot of the crypto-asset sector, the environment was overwhelmingly dominated by men,” he said.
Still, given the nature of NFT art, this could easily change and make the space more inclusive.
“Crypto art or on-chain digital art can be seen as a response to traditional art which is more institutionalized and inward-looking,” said Pailhon. “It was very difficult for an artist to break through if he was not in the right country, or the right city and did not know the right gallery owner, the right agent, the right art dealer, or the right museum curator.”
He’s convinced that with NFTs all of this will change.
“With a few clicks, works can be created, purchased, transferred, and presented in exhibitions. Behind NFTs and Web3 generally speaking, there is a notion of freedom, inclusiveness, and ‘grass root.’”