By Kelly Kristin, Editor Exertion Films
David Bianchi burst onto the NFT scene dropping the world’s first Award-Winning Spoken Word Film NFT. His genesis drop, “I Can’t Breathe” was a painfully honest look at being black in America in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd. In an unprecedented move, David donated 100% of the proceeds to the George Floyd Memorial Foundation, getting the attention of some of the largest collectors in the space and Forbes magazine. Fortunately, his efforts in philanthropy are just getting started.
As the creator of a new art genre he calls Spinema (spinning cinema through spoken word), his vision is to change the world through poetic-cinematic experiences utilizing the blockchain. Every piece of Spinema, along with all of his art, is centered around socially conscious issues and he has vowed to donate a portion of all proceeds from his NFT’s to non-profit organizations that are the boots on the ground working to change the issues he speaks of in the real world. To invest in David’s work is to invest in art as activism meant to change the world.
As a multi-hyphenate artist, David’s work spans far beyond the NFT space. He is a celebrated actor, filmmaker, screenwriter and globally known spoken word poet. He holds over 100 professional film and television credits. He is a member of the prestigious Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and is the founder of Exertion Films. As a person of color, over the past sixteen years he has been a strong advocate for diversity and equality in Hollywood, the Modern Day Minstrel is no different.
History : The Minstrel Show
The Minstrel Shows were the largest American theater movement in history, spanning over a century that would evolve into Vaudeville. It consisted of racist comedy skits, dancing and music, performed by white people painted in blackface. Minstrel shows painted black people as dim-witted, lazy, criminal, sexual deviants and superstitious. The first minstrel show was performed in 1828. The name of the founding character was “Jim Crow”.
By 1848, blackface minstrel shows were a national art form, overtaking opera in popularity. It infiltrated film, television, and radio all the way through silent films and the 21st century. Amateur performances continued until the 1960s in high schools, and local theaters throughout the south.
The social impact of over 140 years of racist belittling and mocking the black community in the country’s highest form of entertainment, undeniably has left a subconscious and conscious scar on America’s view of black people in America and around the world.
Knowing the history of the Minstrel Show and how it still influences Hollywood today, David envisioned to illuminate the disparity of black and minority presence in modern entertainment and media. As a working actor having experienced this disparity first hand, this series is very personal.
When it came time to create David’s vision, he needed a photographer whose work is both contemporary and cinematic that captures the edges of human emotions. He brought the project to Isaac Alvarez. Isaac is a high-profile editorial photographer and film director. He is well known for his dramatic portraits that resonate deep emotions while giving the viewer powerful insight into the lives of his subjects. It was a perfect match.
Stereotypes : The Modern Day Minstrel
David chose a specific art direction to accent the dark history of Black people in America. He uses white subservient gloves, porcelain trays, watermelons, lynching ropes, homeless signs, work boots, polished dress shoes, and most importantly black face, (indicating the role of the black person in elite white culture). These are symbolisms that date back to the field and house negro era of slavery. This imagery is still attached to the Black person in America now over 150 years post emancipation.
The use of the homeless sign in ‘Equality’ is a metaphor for the will to lose oneself in order to be treated fairly. He is still, however, bound to the subconscious stereotyped branding of butler gloves and his lynched ancestors. In ‘Ownership’ the man uses stereotypes to re-enforce his perceived status in society, hence the glorification of the watermelon while sitting in a gold-plated throne. The throne is a metaphor for young money in the rap game and also high dollar sports. Countless Black men who gain meteoric wealth are more interested in exploitation than utilizing wealth for generational longevity.
David felt the nude form of a black man who has painted himself in blackface makes an oxymoronic image of himself. Being nude pays attention to the slave selling block, lost dignity, and the treasure of the strong black physique to withstand hard slave labor.
Being naked not only speaks to the lack of identity, it subversivly and hauntingly celebrates the negro form. For hundreds of years, slaves were forcibly cross-bred to create strong offspring. Modern sports domination is the result of American Slavery.
Eventually his black face is peeled away erotically by the hands of a white woman to indicate what he thinks will make him more equal. Tragically it ends in the demise of his spirit where he is destroyed by choking on the very stereotypes that he held so high in value.
In the end all he has left is his naked body, a broken spirit, pummeled by watermelon pieces of his past while wearing the soaked and stained white gloves that have held up the American view of his race since slavery.
Physically being the minstrel was important to me. Being naked in a production setting is vulnerable. But the weight of what we were producing and the pain of my ancestors evoked the performance captured in the portraitsDavid Bianchi
The Minstrels will be released for auction once a week starting on July 1st, 2021.
Each owner of an individual NFT will be granted complete copyright ownership of the literary work – the poetry. This right grants the buyer the right to reproduce, publish, commercialize and assign the literary work in perpetuity.
Every individual owner of a Minstrel (one per owner) will receive a luxury, physical limited edition hardcover book signed by David Bianchi and Isaac Alvarez.
The owner(s) of 5 Minstrels (if any) will be given a never-released 1 of 1 to be announced 30 days after the auction closing.
A portion of all proceeds will be donated to nonprofits focused on Black voices in cinema.
Each image is digitally embellished bringing each NFT portrait to life.
David’s original spoken word poetry will tell the story of each portrait in his voice and unique poetic performance. Each token is musically scored and sound-designed.
Curation and aesthetics are very important. Every aspect of the art must be succinct and polished without interfering with the organics of the work. We should feel the presentation but never notice it. Once you notice the presentation you’ve failed because it’s stealing attention from the ArtDavid Bianchi
Written by Kelly Kristin, Editor Exertion Films