I keep my finger on the pulse of the worldwide web for new and eye-catching NFTs every month. The results of my endless scrolling are the following: my top picks of recent projects to excite and entice, and maybe have you reaching for your cryptowallet.
‘Eroding and Reforming Bust of Rome (One Year)’ by Daniel Arsham
The artist who just supplied Lewis Hamilton with his custom helmet for the Monaco Grand Prix produced this piece, which engages with the concept of digital degradation and decay. We might think of digital assets as non-tangible (if not non-fungible) and therefore permanent, but this is simply not the case. Data erodes and degrades possibly at a rate even faster than that of natural materials like wood or marble, and is almost never in a stable or immutable state.
Arsham’s NFT beautifully illustrates this concept with the gradual breaking down of a digital piece, rendered to look like marble and crystal. It’s a quotation from history in the style of a Roman bust, but quintessentially captures the present in its aesthetics, medium and existence as a living NFT. Over the course of twelve months, the piece will gradually break down and rebuild itself, altering its form every month. The inevitable onslaught of time is reflected, too, in the interior created for the bust by design studio Six N. Five. It echoes the subtly changing seasons that carry us through life and which have marked the passage of time for many cultures, for millennia. As artworks go, this one ticks all the boxes for me – collaboration, concept and execution.
‘The Swing’ by Yuliang Liu
When this NFT was first released, I saw at least five different versions of the original oil painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard on my timeline within the space of three days. Algorithm or coincidence? Whatever the reason, none of the other interpretations were quite as interesting or subversive as this one by Taiwan-born, Berlin-based artist Yuliang Liu. Their take on the frivolous Rococo masterpiece is all about an uninhibited celebration of self, and about representing identities that, in Fragonard’s time and even our own, are marginalised and misunderstood. This piece is part of SuperRare’s ‘Asian Awaken’ feature, which Yu co-curated for Asian Heritage month in May. It inserts a contemporary, queer Asian perspective into the canon of Western art history in a playful, disruptive way.
nnAnd as an added bonus, Yuliang’s Instagram page is a work of art in itself.
‘The Eyeye Editions’ by Lykke Li
This is a completely immersive audio-visual experience by Swedish singer/songwriter Lykke Li and director Theo Lindquist. The artist describes the work as “a lifetime of romantic obsession and female fantasy compressed into a hyper-sensory landscape.” Naturally, I’m hooked. Li’s music is both nostalgic and painful for me, and the sumptuous visuals of her new NFT series only serve to heighten the raw emotion of her lyrics and music. The distressingly intimate series showcases a new and under-explored function of NFTs in the music world, creating collectible moments from artists that are inextricably tied to their musical output. With the rise of music videos as feature films in and of themselves, this collaborative venture between artist and director takes it to the next level, tokenising the art of the music film format.
‘Empower Flower’ by Rubem Robierb
Made in response to the recent and unspeakable overturning of Roe v. Wade in the United States, this piece is dedicated to the strength and resilience of women. The central sculptural form is based on a physical sculpture unveiled at Randalls Park in New York last month by Brazilian/American artist Rubem Robierb. Five independent parts come together to form a lotus-like throne, providing the space for park visitors to become the central focus of the artwork. The artist says “I’m continuously humbled by the women of this world; this sculpture is dedicated to their always renewing strength and their gifts to humanity.” And in a genuine reflection of this sentiment, Robierb has pledged to donate all artist proceeds from the NFT sale to Girls Inc., a NY-based non-profit which inspires all girls to be strong, smart and bold. It’s a much needed symbol of strength and support for female-identifying people who are faced, as ever, with discrimination on the basis of gender. It also demonstrates the power of NFTs to put financial and creative control in the hands of the artist, and to allow them to decide how their art impacts and helps the world.
‘give me back everything i lost’ by Thiago Souza
This dark, brooding piece by Brazilian artist Thiago Souza, aka Yot, is a heartfelt collage of poetry and digital imagery. An abstraction of flora, veins and clockwork made to look like a charcoal or possibly ink drawing, it captures a moment in the artist’s life that evokes a sense of emptiness and loss. In a poignant loop back to Daniel Arsham’s work at the beginning of this list, Souza’s 1/1 creation also references the inevitable passage of time. For him, this has to do with memory and how this constructs our experience of temporality. The poem alludes to looking back on things we once had and now miss, wishing we could have them once more, and not knowing what the future holds. It’s a deeply personal expression of the artist’s innermost thoughts and experience, in the manner of Expressionist art. Being able to own such an intimate piece of someone’s world as an NFT is, to my mind, a great privilege, and one of the ways this medium connects artists with their audience in meaningful and novel ways.
I’ll be back next month for another round-up of content – in the meantime, I would love to know what YOUR favourite artists and projects are. Comment below or send me a message with your top picks!
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