Stars, artists and activists are entering the ultra-masculine digital works market. The new parity challenge?
“Do women have to go naked to enter the Met?” asked the American women’s collective Guerrilla Girls thirty years ago, a provocative way of pointing out the underrepresentation of female artists in museums around the world. Art in New York. In 2022, the question still applies: not only do male artists represent 85% of the works exhibited in museums, but also, and above all, their productions sell on average twice as much as those of women. The rise of digital art, a new playground on the fringes but open to all, gave hope for greater equality – and an opportunity for female artists to seize.
Nevertheless, at the moment the figures of the NFT market (the non-fungible tokens, these digital works from which we buy the property) are even more poignant than those of traditional art: women represent only 16% of creations and barely 5% of sales. It is all the more unfortunate that the phenomenon has reached an unprecedented magnitude in just a few years: NFT sales worldwide reached USD 17.7 billion last year, 200 times more than in 2020. According to forecasts, the global market could reach USD 150 billion. approach. 2026. Hence a general movement in all countries led by entrepreneurs, activists and celebrities, figures of female empowerment, mobilizing and multiplying initiatives so that women can better absorb the NFT wave. And that this page of history cannot be written without them – including the future of the Internet.
In video, women in digital: the key figures
An uprising within the revolution
Because the opportunity is there, and the moment is indeed quite unique. First, because the creators of NFTs are not required to disclose their identities or gender, women may, for the first time, have the opportunity to enter a space that is still free of the discrimination and bias they face in traditional industries. . But the movement is much broader and the stakes are both economic and social. NFTs can become an opportunity for all women by increasing their investment capacity and thereby their autonomy, their power… This opportunity of multifaceted empowerment crystallizes the energies of the moment.
Last January, actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Mila Kunis already took part in a massive rally staged online, on Zoom, by BFF, an ultra-connected collective created to encourage women to get into NFTs and invest in ” this world dominated by women”. and cryptocurrencies. “We saw a lot of ‘brothers’ going there together and making a lot of money,” Gwyneth Paltrow launched, during this gathering that brought together more than 15,000 women. We have as much right as they do to be part of this universe.” While having the conversation, the actress herself has been given an avatar from NFT’s collection Bored Ape Yacht Club, depicting a monkey with blond hair and blue eyes dressed in a marinière. This collection has had worldwide success, especially after being mentioned by many celebrities, such as Serena Williams, Madonna, Paris Hilton, Eminem and Justin Bieber. Dans la foulée, Gwyneth Paltrow aussi remplacé la photo de son compte Twitter par une œuvre acquise sur World of Women, et, depuis, met en avant – dans chaque tweet ou presque – une œuvre numérique qu’elle propose parfois à ses followers de win, earn. The message is clear: crossing the threshold of this new world can be fun, easy and even uninhibited, like the flashy, colorful, sometimes even crazy universe of these works! Succeed differently – easy? – Culture change also starts here.
Change the game, change the look.
“As women, we are conditioned to fear risk,” actress Mila Kunis added at the same conference. Men make money and we save it. I too want to take risks and see what happens. And show this example to my children. Together with her husband Ashton Kutcher, the actress financed an animated series called Stoner Cats, available only through the purchase of NFT, which has already raised $8 million in 2021. This is enough to refute the accepted idea that women are too academic or wise to invest in cryptocurrencies. Because if they take longer to enter the world of new technologies, they also make more informed choices. “Women are generally more cautious than men with investments, they like to talk to other women or have a female ‘advisor’. But once they have the answers to their questions and have done their research, they feel much more at ease,” explains Glen Hardwick-Bruce, director of education at Christie’s, who teaches a course devoted to NFTs. The teacher confirms it: after having had more men, half of his students are now women. Faced with the novelty, a form of student association and female solidarity is set up.
And it’s not superfluous: just consult the discussion forums dedicated to NFT on platforms like Reddit or Discord to realize that the communities involved in virtual art are still very macho. The ubiquity of a masculine and aggressive vocabulary, massive use of acronyms unknown to the general public, automatically excluding the uninitiated…, the “pizza-geek” vibe of the whole helps to cool the best wishes . According to a recent survey of 500 women, 82% of them believe that NFT campaigns target more men. Hence the importance of uniting to reverse the trend.
Education, nerves of war.
When Brit Morin and Jaime Schmidt, the two American entrepreneurs and investors who founded BFF, launched the collective last January, their mission was clear: to encourage women to take the plunge into Web3 and NFTs to change the culture from within. Named by 50 female leaders in cryptocurrencies and venture capital figures, they now plan to evangelize the largest number. “Education and content are our priority right now because to take women into the next phase of this industry, they need to know the basics,” says Brit Morin.
To have this expertise, it is still necessary to have access to knowledge. Rachel van der Nacht, a French visual artist based in New York, understood this well. For example, this year the young woman joined forces with the Caché Life cultural program to create the very first NFT depicting Jesus, in this case here… surf (Surfin’ Jesus). Work she subsequently declined in twenty versions, varying styles and ethnic references. Profit from the sale was donated entirely to the Brooklyn Community Foundation to help the struggling population of this New York district. “It’s important to take your place as a woman because this technology will become ubiquitous and you have to get used to it early,” says the artist. Crypto is still largely a male and tech universe, but things are changing! If we want it to be an opportunity and inspiration for women, it has to be for those who really need it. The ones whose lives they could completely change.” Like Rachel van der Nacht, several women have decided to enthusiastically support the NFT movement, with a feminist and inclusive vision. Overview of the most prominent current initiatives in the world.