Art exhibitions are nothing new to Kochi. However, the one that is going on at Cafe Papaya, Panampilly Nagar, is something different. 'Myths and Memes', curated by Vimal Chandran, is the first exclusive NFT art expo in Kochi.
The project features works of 14 eminent NFT artists. It is being organised by the entity named ‘101 India’.
To the uninitiated, NFT (non-fungible token) on the digital platform asserts the ownership of the artist over his work with no possibility for copying by anyone. There will be only one unique buyer and owner for each work. Without the help of curators or galleries, hundreds of young and new artists become famous and rich through NFT.
The 14 artists featured at ‘Myths and Memes’ include Reshidev R K, Vidya aka Vabyvel, Archan Nair, Vimal Chandran, Rima Kallingal, Ajay Menon, Prasad Bhat, Sachin Samson, Satish Acharya and Merkabah Boards. The 101 India collaborating artists in the event are Shaizy Umar, Fahad Hussein, Rajni Gadhvi, Varun Desai and Jibin Joseph.
The exhibition which began on June 24 will run till July 6.
“Almost 90 per cent of the artists participating in the show are displaying their artworks in India for the first time. In this show what we are trying to do is to connect two worlds – an ancient myths and digital meme culture – because in the NFT world artists are creating artwork as a bridge between these two verticals,” Vimal Chandran, the curator, told Onmanorama.
Asked what makes the NFT expo different from the traditional art shows, Chandran said, “Compared with the traditional art expos, these are mostly digital artistes and the works are displayed on a digital screen. If you enjoy them on a big screen with the sound and animation, it's altogether a different experience.”
Chandran has carefully selected artists working on different genres for his show. The participating artists include 2D and 3D digital artists, generative artists and editorial cartoonists. The works at display include a dance video by actor Rima Kallingal also. The work titled 'Neythe', created by Kallingal along with Ajay Menon, cinematographer and co-founder of Café Papaya, is a tribute to the famed handloom industry of Chendamangalam.
A notable feature of the works on display is their overt tint of magic realism. Characters and motifs from myths and folklore mix well with strong themes of contemporary politics in many of the works. Different worlds of women, ecology, tradition and technology take shape in these works. One of Chandran's own works is a modern re-telling of the famous Malayalam poem Poothappattu (Song of the demon) by Edassery Govindan Nair.
On the confusion over NFT and concerns over it treating art just as a trading commodity, Chandran said, “People coming here are really interested to understand what are NFTs. There are a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about the concept of NFT. This is mostly digital art. It's like any other artform. NFT is not limited to just art. It can be anything which could be represented by a digital file. Like any other expo, Myths and Memes is an art show. I think people need not be much bothered about the tech behind it. You can experience it the way you experience traditional art.”
“NFT Art unlocks enormous possibilities with the shift from Web.2 to Web.3. The national boundaries in art will dissolve with it. You can buy or sell any digital asset using blockchain-friendly cryptocurrency. The author can protect the authenticity of each work. Till recently the artists in the animation VFX areas did not have such an identity. Through NFT Art, they can exhibit their creativity and get remunerated also,” Chandran said.
Jaydeep Singh, Founder and MD, I01 India, and the Offbeat Media Group, which organises the show said its NFT Creators Project taps the new progression in storytelling, creating a bridge between ancient myths and digital memes, hitting a cultural milestone and celebrating the memetics. “‘Myths & Memes’ narrates complex thoughts in simplified stories,” he said, adding that ‘101 India’ would soon be announcing a full-year line up of NFT Creators Project with new themes across India and a few global markets.
A lot of youngsters are buying NFT artworks paying handsome sums proving that the future belongs to digital art. Famed auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s have already held NFT art auctions worth US$ 250 million in 2021.