Serwah Attafuah had commissions by major brands, but hadn’t looked to the gallery world until she found herself at the centre of the global NFT conversation, according to curator Wade Wallerstein who invited her to join the show Pieces of Me. When she joined Foundation, she sold her first piece “Consensual Hallucinations” (2021) for 10 ETH (~$27k at the time), significant for an artist’s first sale. Though Foundation gets chastised for their energy consumption and invitation-only practices, a spokesperson shared that seven out of their top-25-selling artists are women, including Itzel Yard. Why not more? Collectors need encouragement to notice, appreciate, and buy the works of women. The organization, Women of Crypto Art aims to shift that, and others urge the same, but sales indicate more is still needed.
The marginalization of certain aesthetics often comes from the discomfort of confronting the lived experience of “othered” artists. When blockchain narratives don’t celebrate women, they reiterate that marginalization. Some argue that to examine women separately is to marginalize them, but sidelined as they remain, I emphasize their presence to alter the record. Many of the women mentioned in this article represent a globally diverse population, with works about their communities and their politics. Sara Ludy used blockchain’s potential to develop new contract practices with her gallery. Claudia Hart imagined how feminism could influence the disruptive practices of blockchain in her Feminist Manifesta. Gender bias exists within the tech industry, but also the viability of aesthetics associated with technology. Technology can’t solve social ills, but we can begin to rectify those problems by being deliberate in how we adopt, design, and engage with technologies and the aesthetics they promote.
Editor’s Note: The paraphrase of a quotation attributed to Wade Wallerstein has, subsequent to this article being published, been edited to more clearly reflect his thoughts on the artist Serwah Attafuah.