Little more than two years ago, a new art world appeared, and for many it came out of nowhere. This new world ignored museums, galleries, curators and critics (in short: the entire establishment), but arrived dripping with money and generated a lot of interest. The new art world (if it is indeed new) was based on a new technology (blockchain), had its own distribution system (Web3), unregulated aesthetic concepts (evident through NFTs), digital currencies (crypto currencies), new spaces for discussion, critique and promotion (Discord channels and Twitter) and new forms of participation. The reactions to this have been fierce, ranging from unbridled enthusiasm to categorical rejection, from exaggerated hopes to dark doomsday fantasies, from fascination with overnight wealth to criticism of energy consumption. The art world reacted indignantly with familiar accusations, “That’s not art!” or “It’s just commerce!” Years ago the bourgeoisie said the same thing about Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol.
Nevertheless, in the last few months more and more people were heard saying that maybe there was something to this movement after all. That there’s something interesting going on, and it has potential. They say that blockchain is here to stay, that it will be significant for the music industry, that NFTs might not catch on, that the technology allows novel forms of participation, that PFP (profile pictures) were cool but are already out, that the metaverse doesn’t really work yet and will be the next bubble, but that DAOs (decentralised autonomous organisations, a kind of digital global organisation technology) are the future, and so on. It is, in other words, an extremely vital, young, dynamic, contradictory, fascinating, problematic, creative, critical and critiqued field that many people want to know more about and are attracted to. The hunger is there, but many people haven’t found the information. For this reason, Kunsthalle Zürich has decided to dedicate one of the first ever institutional exhibitions of its kind to this world.
DYOR (do your own research) is a dictum of the crypto scene. The principle is that one should do one’s own investigation rather than believing all that is read. Our exhibition reveals to visitors what is, for many, a new world: art in the context of blockchain and NFTs. Curated by Nina Roehrs, DYOR focusses on artists, projects and platforms that have had a significant influence on how the crypto art scene has developed and is today.
The exhibition makes a wide variety of worlds, ideas and ways of thinking accessible through various sections. A multimedia timeline created by artist and crypto-forensicist Martin Lukas Ostachowski gives viewers a foothold. It shows the development of crypto art, the importance of communities and the influence of memes. This is demonstrated through concrete, often playful projects such as a Pepe the Frog Space curated by Fabian Wyss (aka FWD) or a Garbage Pail Kids-inspired DYOR: Crypto Glossary by Moxarra Gonzales and Adina Glickstein. Works by 24 Seeders are displayed on three giant turnstiles, 24 pioneering artists, projects and platforms that laid the foundations for new artistic concepts. They offer insight into this world’s origins, they are important references for the whole scene and they have often set new standards. One wall is occupied by NFTism, Kenny Schachter’s invention: is it a hoax or reality (or both)? Kunsthalle Zurich also triples the exhibition area thanks to a Digital Space created by Manuel Rossner, which can be entered wearing a VR headset. Play Record Mint makes it possible to create your own digital artwork through a fun interaction with generative artworks and to mint it as an NFT afterwards. The interactive platform A Slice of the Pie, developed for the exhibition by Silvio Lorusso and Sebastian Schmieg, invites artists from all over the world to bring their works from outside into the exhibition, unfiltered, in real time on an LED wall. Last but not least, Andreas Gysin will present the Kunsthalle Zürich’s first NFT edition. And if you would still like more, a merchandise area invites you discover items and establish your own crypto art collection with NFT give-aways.
With Adina Glickstein, AERAONE, AI, Alth0tas, Andreas Gysin (aka ertdfgcvb), Anna Ridler and David Pfau, Art Blocks (featuring Emily Xie, Matt DesLauriers and Tyler Hobbs), Async (featuring Alotta Money, Coldie, DiGiTAL, Farnell Newton, Hackatao, Hilton Wright II, Ishita Banerjee, Josie Bellini, lurklovesyou, Matt Kane, MG O’Shea, Mlibty, Pat Dimitri, Pop Wonder, Rutger van der Tas, Shortcut, Sparrow, Tania del Rio, Terra Naomi, Vans Design, Weinbagz, XCOPY and Zachary Winterton), Banz & Bowinkel, Bitcoin Basement, Black Swan (Penny Rafferty, Laura Lotti, Calum Bowden, Leïth Benkhedda), Botto, BucaPunk, Christian Langalis, Chrome Void, Crypsi, Cryptograffiti, CryptoWiener, DADA Collective, Damien Hirst, Darkfarms, Darky, Dim Zayan, Ditacrypto, Emblematix, EverDreamSoft, Fake Annie, FWD, Gianni Arone (aka LOVEBEING), Grant Riven Yun, grnqrtr, Harm van den Dorpel, Hitomi Matsui, Indelible Trade, Jan Robert Leegte, JB, Johannes Gees, Johnny Johnsonson, Jonas Lund, Jose Burrito, Kelian Maissen, Kenny Schachter, Kero, Kevin Abosch, Kim Asendorf, Larva Labs, Lord Jamie V. Shill, Lorna Mills, Luis Simo, MandarineMarie, Manuel Rossner, Marcus Connor, Martin Lukas Ostachowski (featuring Christian Langalis, Cryptograffiti, EverDreamSoft, Kevin Abosch, Marcus Connor, Martin Lukas Ostachowski and Rhea Myers), Matt Kane (featuring Alotta Money, Bård Ionson, Coldie, Giant Swan, GISELXFLOREZ, Hackatao, hexeosis, Josie Bellini, Lawrence Lee, Matt Kane, Mlibty, Oficinas TK, Shortcut, skeenee, Sparrow, Vans Design and XCOPY), Maxim Zhestkov, MBTC, MOCA (featuring Kirk Finkel / untitled, xyz), Moxarra Gonzales, MrHansel, N-N-I-A, Nancy Baker Cahill, Netidx (aka Gilles Pegel), Nikolina Petolas, Norman Comics, Olive Allen, Oni Giri, Pepenardo, playrecordmint (featuring Leander Herzog, Sasha Stiles & Nathaniel Stern and Zach Lieberman), Prateek Dhiman, Rafaël Rozendaal, Rare Scrilla, Rarejay, Rhea Myers, ROBNESS, Rochigg, Sarah Friend, Sarah Meyohas, Sarah Zucker, Shewolf, Silvio Lorusso & Sebastian Schmieg, Simon Denny, Snark.art (featuring Eve Sussman / Misha Libman), Snuxton Pack, Tasha Moon, Tek x Porkchop, terra0, Tomopen, VincentVanDough, Viva la Vandal, VSTRVL, XCOPY (featuring gremplin, JAKE THE DEGEN, Kristy Glas, Lumps, neurocolor, SHZZM, XCOPY and Zenoyis), Yotet, and many more …
With warm thanks to Armin Blasbichler, Judy Mam and Martin Lukas Ostachowski for ideas, advice and contacts. With warm thanks to Spike Art Magazine for our collaboration on the DYOR: Crypto Glossary.
With warm thanks to Bottis Kräuter Gärtnerei for plants, Seleform AG for furniture and Leander Herzog and TZ Connect for technical support.
We equally wish to thank those who have lent works to the exhibition: Galerie Buchholz (Berlin, New York), Galerie Nagel Draxler (Berlin, Cologne, Munich), Mantis Cryptos and Susanne & Werner Peyer (Zurich).
The exhibition DYOR is realized thanks to the support of the Bundesamt für Kultur and the Fachstelle Kultur of the Canton of Zürich in the framework of the Covid Financial Support ‘Transformationsprojekte’.