According to a recent report by Murray Edwards College, Cambridge, only seven percent of the artwork exhibited in major public galleries in the UK is made by women. Yet, while physical institutions still have ingrained historical gender biases, the virtual art world has the potential to be a much fairer playing field.
“NFTs allow all people, regardless of gender, race, geography or religion, to have an equal voice,” says Krista Kim, artist and founder of digital studio 0.xyz and the Techism movement, which recognizes technological innovation as an artistic activity. discipline. “It means women can have the same opportunities to access and build communities around their work.”
The Metaverse is essentially an alternate version of the Internet presented in 3D – a digital space parallel to the physical world where people can interact through avatars. It can be accessed using virtual reality headsets or through any device with a browser. Obtaining digital art is much like purchasing a physical piece, except it may come with a non-fungible token (NFT) – a unique certificate of authenticity. NFTs can be purchased using cryptocurrencies and blockchains (an immutable, continuously updated database) such as Tezos; they also allow artists to collect royalties on their work if it is subsequently resold. Major art houses, including Christie’s and Sotheby’s, now include them in their auctions; digital works accounted for 6% of their sales last year.
For Kim, the biggest benefit of virtual art is that it allows creators to put the human connection front and center, which studies have shown women are especially good at. “For 12 years, we have been using technology designed for capitalism,” she explains. “When artists take the lead and collaborate with engineers and companies on beauty projects, that’s when we will combine humanity and technology.”
Emblematic of this philosophy is Kim’s House of Mars (2020), the world’s first digital home, whose sherbet color palette and dim lighting were designed to provide sanctuary from the stresses of the pandemic. It sold for the equivalent of around £430,000 (nearly 10 times the amount it was quoted for) and was one of many high-profile deals that propelled the NFT market forward – it is expected to reach £650 billion over the next two years. .
Kim is one of a number of pioneering women on the NFT Rarible marketplace, whose artist relations manager Holly Wood says her priority is to ensure “the metaverse is built with inclusivity at its heart. “. Among those she has brought on board are Mila Lolli, who creates light-infused fantasy sets; Joëlle Snaith, who uses musical soundscapes as a backdrop for her animated geometric works; and Graceland London, whose character-based Lady Lileth collection includes a digital city. Wood is also building an all-female NFT Business Squad, “to give women the tools to better support the distribution of wealth in this new ecosystem.”
High-profile digital art collectors include Reese Witherspoon, who has championed female NFT artists through her own online gallery, showcasing work from female-led brands Boss Beauties, DeadFellaz and World of Women. The latter, which launched in July last year with 10,000 artworks, has quickly become one of NFT’s most profitable providers, already generating the equivalent of £122m from sales of its all-female avatars.
Building a virtual world is ultimately a creative endeavor, Kim says, “and it will be the art that drives it forward.” As communities of female artists continue to emerge and thrive in these early stages of the metaverse, it’s likely that women will increasingly shape its future.
‘Bending Light’ by Krista Kim is part of the group exhibition ‘In Our Code’, organized by AOI at Unit London, until October 15.