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NFTs take center stage at Miami Art Week

Written By Jonel Juste
November 28, 2021 at 7:16 PM

Art by Nigerian artist Alexis Tsegba, one of the works that will be presented at the Flagler Street Art Festival. (Courtesy of ArtRepublic)

If you don’t know what an NFT is, brace yourself, because you are going to hear a lot of the acronym that stands for non-fungible token, especially during the latest edition of Miami Art Week (Dec 1-5). NFTs are going to be all over the place, particularly in downtown Miami.

The NFTs are taking over the art world judging the number of events evolving around them during Miami Art Week. A lot of invitations to different events are NFT-related. But what is an NFT?

The term is gaining popularity. It has even had its moment on the iconic comedy show, SNL. The comedian Pete Davidson sang in one of the skits: “Now what the hell’s an NFT?/Apparently, cryptocurrency/Everyone’s makin’ so much money/Can you please explain what’s an NFT?,” parodying Eminem’s “Without me.”

Without any surprise, the term has made its entry into the dictionary, particularly The Collins English Dictionary, that, according to Rolling Stone, chose NFT as its Word of the Year due to its ubiquity and how the mixing of technology, art and commerce has “captured the public’s imagination.”

An NFT is defined as a digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items and videos. They are bought and sold online, frequently with cryptocurrency. NFTs, which have been around since 2014, are gaining notoriety now because they are becoming an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital artwork.

In the art world, an NFT is a digital piece that is supposed to be unique (non-fungible, non-replaceable) and have a unique value. Like traditional artwork, its value can increase or decrease overtime, according to Jessica Santiago, the founder of ArtRepublic, a curation agency for contemporary digital art.

Santiago is organizing with SuperRare, the pioneering marketplace for curated NFT artworks, an NFT auction that will be followed by an exhibit on 150 E. Flagler Street during Miami Art Week 2021.

“The works that were auctioned off will be projected on the walls of buildings in Downtown Miami,” indicates Jessica Santiago. The proceeds of the auction, which will gather NFT collectors, the artists and celebrity supporters will go to Teen Cancer America.

This exhibition is part of the Flagler Street Art Festival, hosted by Mana Common in partnership with Urban Impact Lab. It is a digital art public exhibit aiming to enhance Downtown Miami and make the 305 the next tech hub in the country.

An important part of the exhibition is The Monolith, a public digital art installation produced by ArtRepublic and featuring artworks curated by SuperRare. The Monolith will stand 24-feet high and 12-feet wide showcasing nearly 100 artists’ works on Flagler Street, as part of the illuMia event.

“There will be projections on walls, LSD screens like in New York’s Times Square. It will be something to see, and we are happy to contribute to Miami being the next technology hub,” says enthusiastically Jessica Santiago.  The event will also be the occasion to unveil 15 new murals commissioned by Mana Public Arts to be live-painted throughout the week.

The exhibition is free and open to the public from November 30 through December 5.

Digital Art by Chad Knight. (Courtesy ArtRepublic)

NFT Conference

There will also be a big conference in Downtown Miami about the NFT phenomenon: the NFT BZL that will unfold on November 30 at FTX Arena (previously AAA). 68 speakers including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez will take part at this event designed to bring ideas and innovation together. Among the participants feature CoinDesk, Art Blocks, FTX.us, AEXLab, The Sandbox, Metagood, VaynerNFT, OneOf, Polygon, Worldwide Asset eXchange (WAX), Algorand, NFT Now, and Nifty Gateway.

Other NFT-related events

Other art fair organizers are betting on the NFT craze as well, such as Cube Art Fair that promises to offer “a physical art viewing experience of NFT-only works” in an unprecedented scale.

According to the organizers, the NFTs will be featured in the streets of Miami on 50 billboards in the Design District, Wynwood and Downtown Miami. The centerpiece of the fair is a mural projection on the 400 feet tall Intercontinental Hotel, in Bayfront Park, where the NFTs will be mapped on the side of the building. The digital art experience will run from December 1 through the 5.

Some of the artists participating are Carolyn Joe, Kelly Fischer, By Fez, Brett Ashby, Nikki Vismara, Maureen Golgata, Lisa Ledson, Cassandria Blackmore, Melissa Herrington, Panda Dynasty, Gregg Emery, Olivia de Posson, and Elton Atelier.

Other NFT enthusiasts such as TokenSmart announced that it will host an NFT 321 Blast Off event in Miami on Dec. 1 at Briza on The Bay (1717 North Bayshore Drive in Miami, FL 33132). The event will feature TokenSmart’s founder and CEO, Jimmy McNelis, and influential NFT artist Marguerite deCourcelle.

The speakers will discuss how non-fungible tokens are enabling all different forms of artists, from visual artists to musicians, to take advantage of era streams and unprecedented ways to interact and reward their collectors.

During Art Basel Miami Beach, in Miami Convention Center, art lovers will have the opportunity to create their own NFT during an exhibit by German artist Mario Klingemann, aka Quasimondo. He will generate AI portraits of fairgoers who can then use the open-source blockchain Tezos to mint NFTs of their digital artwork. It is part of the futuristic exhibition, ‘Humans + Machines: NFTs and the Ever-Evolving World of Art’.

Other art fairs such as NADA will include NFT in their programs. Museums such as PAMM will hold on virtual discussions about the future of NFTs.

Enjoy Miami Art Week and all there is to see – including this new technology that will be on view across the county next week.

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