By Vinciane Jones, Verisart
French-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa is known for his powerful examination of contemporary society. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, MoMA, Palais de Tokyo and K11 among many other renowned institutions. Through film, video, sculpture and installation, the artist explores topics such as the internet, social media, digital technologies as well as advertisement and political propaganda.
Beloufa extends his exploration of the digital with his first-ever NFT work, minted on March 1 in exclusive partnership with Verisart and SuperRare as part of 10×10: 10 inaugural NFTs by 10 major contemporary artists over 10 weeks.
NFTs cross another important threshold
Beloufa’s NFT, B, trying to reach out to its audience, is a further reflection on the real and virtual dimensions and on the value of an artwork. The different sculptures in the exhibition are referred to as hosts by the artist and called A, B and C. These physical entities share the same name and title as their digital counterparts but for the first time exist as one of a kind, collectible NFTs allowing collectors to trade them on the web like cryptocurrency.
Each NFT sculpture is drawn from the artist’s solo exhibition “Digital Mourning” currently showing at the Pirelli HangarBiccoca in Milan. With this work, NFTs cross another important threshold with their inclusion in a first institutional museum exhibition by a major contemporary artist.
The exhibition “Digital Mourning” examines life in our digital world. It questions the divide between reality and simulation, addressing themes of power relationships and technological control. Much like the internet and social media feeds, where information is constantly evolving, the audience is faced with an encompassing experience where shifting narratives and changing images, sounds, colors, and lights, make it impossible to establish clear hierarchies.
The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections, each one inhabited by a ‘host’, a fictional entity. Describing his NFT, Beloufa explains “In the exhibition Host B argues with two other hosts (Host A and C) about what the visitors should watch, think and consume as if it were the materialization of a politicized algorithm in a social network feed. Host B uses any argument it can to control the exhibition connected to its program. I was interested in the work as an NFT because it affirms its digital existence and, as stated in the exhibition, means the activity, life and value of the artwork are also on the internet.”
Extending the physical into the digital
Neïl Beloufa’s inaugural NFT is certified by Verisart, an award-winning blockchain certification platform. Designed to empower artists to tell their own story of their work, the certificate includes additional images, videos and documents. For collectors, Verisart’s patent-pending Certificates of Authenticity (COA) form an integral part of collecting NFTs. They provide confidence in the identity of the artist and the verified history of the artwork.
As further consideration of the digital, the exhibition actively encourages the audience to interact with the works online.
The show includes an adapted version of Beloufa’s 2020 Screen Talk Project, an interactive online page where visitors must play a game to gain access to additional content. In places where only extracts are shown, QR codes are used to provide access to full-length videos.
The NFT is part of this wider thematic exploration of digital representations and interactions which is core to the artist’s practice. Beloufa’s participation in Verisart and SuperRare’s 10×10 auction builds a bridge not only between the world of NFTs and the contemporary art market but the museum world too.
Bidding for Neïl Beloufa’s inaugural NFT B, trying to reach out its audience, closes at 1300 EST on March 4.
About the artist
Neïl Beloufa is a French-Algerian artist born in 1985 in Paris, where he lives and works. His practice ranges across film, video, sculpture and installation. His films and videos have been presented within several international film festivals. Beloufa’s work can be found in the collections of several prestigious museums including Centre Pompidou and Museum of Modern Art. He is represented by galleries including Ghebaly, Kamel Mennour and Mendes Wood.