NFTs can mean the death of art

A carte blanche from Constantin Chariot, General Manager of the Royal Patinoire Galerie Valérie Bach, Brussels.

It is now possible to buy a tweet, a digital image or a “gif” as if it were a work of art. Such sales, which exploded in 2021, are now shaking up the art market. When you acquire such a digital work, you purchase an NFT (for Non Fungible Token), which is a certificate attesting to the uniqueness of the digital file that you become the owner of. Some NFTs sell for tens of thousands of millions of euros.

By participating in the slow and relentless derealization of the world, and especially of art, which nevertheless remains the most perfect expression of humanity in what it produces best and most uniquely, the NFTs constitute the ultimate phase towards the end of the creative action, our society increasingly prefers the digital copy over the material original, based on artificial intelligence and virtual reality (the metaverse proposed by Facebook is the incarnation of this – if you can say! – the most successful and the most fatal).

Since Malevich, art has continued to dematerialize, moving from figuration to abstraction, from geometric abstraction to lyrical abstraction, from Duchamp’s conceptual art to Warhol’s Industrial Factory or the globalization of Jeff Koon’s kitsch poodles, where they reproduce themselves in the form of digital works. on video screens and tablets (sometimes even created directly on and by them – David Hockney), self-destructing by an after-sales explosion (Banksy), and eventually ending up being nothing more than a code, a deed without any artistic materiality: Not -fungible token.

It is clearly not art, not even as Duchamp understood it, when the (material) object – whatever it is – attains status as a work of art, simply because the artist decrees it.

We are talking here about unregulated speculative financial products, backed by encrypted currencies and therefore criminal because they are not controlled by an issuing power (central bank, state). NFTs are therefore a criminal and speculative financial product, designed by unscrupulous crooks who promise the lavish investment returns of the first gogos and reserve the last holders of these digital chimeras, petrified in the blockchain, bitter disappointments when the investment ceiling inexorably reached, sooner or later will they stand alone with an unsaleable asset, no one wants it at this price once the Ponzi scheme is exhausted.

When NFTs find themselves mistakenly fungible in works of art – often of low value – they are even more dangerous because they harbor the illusion that these works are the material counterpart to an intangible value.

Since the financialization of art and its market in the 1980s, and the decoupling between value and price that came with it, which made art an untaxed, unregistered and perfectly mobile financial asset (therefore ideal!), The actors in this financialization never stopped inventing ever new media for investment: new Chinese artists, “contemporary art from mushrooms” suddenly supported (from one day to the next) by large world galleries (financed with the same money that comes from a surplus of liquidity in a market that can no longer absorb it), volatile values ​​of several works, use of funds and digital and photographic works …

All of this technique still required effort because it was necessary to find tangible elements that were correlated to any investment.

With NFTs, there is no longer a need to shout in the brain: the lap, inviolable, tamper-proof, alone is sufficient to guarantee the investment and avoid the so-called disappointments of real, dubious or false artistic values, for the sole benefit of … surplus .

The death of art, like that of God in Nietzsche, happily and inevitably evokes the resurrections and resurrections that always protect humanity from itself.

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