The Golden NFT Project
Freedom of movement is a capitalist right!
We live in a world where, on the one hand, billions are invested in financial products and, on the other, people are fleeing war and hunger. Capitalism and nationalism form the pillars of our political systems, the cause of ever more escalating injustices.
But what happens when you short-circuit them? What if freedom of movement, if human rights become nothing but a USP and national border regimes can be bargained away, like in a casino?
Together with international artists – Nora al Badri, Sibylle Berg, !Mediagroup! Bitnik, Liat Gravyer, Nadine Kolodziey, Felix Kosok, Gretta Louw, Rui Major, Volker Behrend Peters, Tayyebeh Rasouli, Milat, Yaser and Mahmoud from reFOCUS medialab, Jill Senft, UBERMORGEN, Nushin Yazdani, Yes Men and Laura Zalenga – we set up this experiment.
We dove up to our necks into the magical world of NFTs, certificates on the blockchain that can be used to trade digital art, among other things. We speculated that this niche market would develop such a force that we could raise enough money to get together so-called Golden Visas for an Afghan family. What is that behind these cryptic terms?
NFTs, Non-Fungible Tokens, are, as mentioned, a kind of digital certificate, something like birth certificates or sales contracts, only they consist of series of numbers that, like Bitcoins, are stored exclusively digitally. The ledger is stored in a decentralized way, it is copied on hundreds and thousands of servers, and it is constantly being synchronized, so there is no need for a central bank or other institutions to be trusted. That’s the new thing about the crypto world: it’s purely digital and decentralized. With the NFTs, a bubble has now emerged that brings with it many new hopes – such as the fact that with every resale, artists can continue to participate, quite automatically. So theoretically one is no longer dependent on large galleries or streaming giants like Spotify, which handle prices and fees in a centralized way. The hope is that new communities will form, that even art-performances can be sold and traded, that entirely new genres can emerge because the conservative gatekeepers will be undermined. But at the same time, the constant calculations of the servers costs incredibly scary energy costs and another devil is hiding in this market: Hedge funds might have found here the possibility to create fictitious value out of nothing and to build up their own speculation bubbles. Huge sums of money flow into artworks, sometimes in collusion with artists, simply to move money back and forth, according to critics.
And golden visas? This is the name given to legal situations in countries that offer you a visa if you invest in the country. After the World Bank’s austerity policy and the waves of neoliberal privatization, countries like Portugal, Greece and Spain in particular urgently need foreign investment to keep their gross domestic product up. So you can invest in funds, in real estate or start up companies and therefore get what nation state can produce at low cost: visa. Those who have money get in, those who suffer from war and hunger have to risk their lives to possibly be allowed to arrive in Europe.
When we met refugees on Lesvos in the summer of 2021, we came up with the idea to try this experiment with them: what if we can manage to make enough money with NFTs that they can buy golden visas for their families? What if we can short-circuit these two cynical systems of speculation with money and with people?
The result, you’ll find at https://GoldenNFT.art
And, we failed. Well, at least not completely – after all, we managed to sell digital certificates worth the equivalent of 100,000 euros. We have never been able to collect that much for any of our campaigns before!
So we want to keep trying, we want to try to find ways to use it to bring Milat’s family to Germany. If we don’t succeed, we will donate the money to organizations that make the world a little better.