NFTs for Meduza 🎨 Russia’s top Crypto artists are auctioning off their work in support of our news organization. Here’s how you can place your bid.
What kind of auction is it? And where is it?
This is an NFT auction in support of Meduza, which means, you don’t have to go anywhere! It will be taking place on the digital platform Rarible on Thursday, May 27. Dozens of Russian artists are taking part and each one of them is offering a reimagined version of Meduza’s logo, or an image of Medusa herself (the figure from Greek mythology with snakes for hair, you know the one). These works, including video artworks, will be available for purchase online. And the funds raised — minus organizational costs — will be used to support our publication.
The auction was organized by two Russian-speaking Crypto-art communities, NFT Bastards and Non-Fungible Females, which both work to promote digital art with the help of NFT technology.
The auction will be divided into two parts: the first one will sell exclusive video artworks (there are no copies of these: all rights to the work belong to the owner) and the second will offer multiple copies of large digital artworks at a more affordable price.
Where can I follow along? On the auction’s website, on Instagram or Twitter, and on the platform Rarible.
Cool! But what’s an NFT?
An NFT (non-fungible token) is a technology based on blockchain. It guarantees the originality of any piece of digital art and assigns ownership of the original artwork to a particular person. A digital artwork can be anything from a simple tweet to a meme or a song.
This technology gained increasing popularity in 2021 and made a splash in the cryptocurrency market. For example, singer Grimes made nearly $6 million in less than 20 minutes by auctioning off a collection of digital artwork using NFT technology. Her boyfriend, SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk, later sold “a song about NFTs as an NFT.” And artist Beeple sold a jpg-file for $69 million.
NFT technology is also being used by media outlets. For example, back in March, The New York Times published an article titled “Buy This Column on the Blockchain!” — the newspaper then turned it into an NFT and sold it for $570,000.
Who organized the auction? And why did they do it?
About the organizers
The Russian Crypto-art community NFT Bastards emerged in February 2021, it was established by artists Brickspacer, Nikita Yelizarev, Nikita Replyansky, and Edik Mikhailov (there’s also a Telegram channel about Crypto-art by the same name). “It all started in February after an eight-hour broadcast about NFTs on Clubhouse with the aforementioned artists. Now, NFT Bastards is the main Russian-language media for crypto artists,” says the Telegram channel’s editor, Liza Kopytlyanka.
Non-Fungible Females is another Russian-speaking Crypto-art community created by artists who came together to launch a collaborative project. “In the process, we wanted to create something more than just a shared canvas. This is how our Non-Fungible Females (NFF) community arose, which we wanted to turn into the most inclusive and supportive space for women’s creativity,” explains NFF creator Alya.
Artist and one of the organizers
The idea to collaborate with Meduza came to me immediately after I read the news that it was given the status of “foreign agent.” I told Alya about the idea and she supported me. I pitched the idea on behalf of NFF in the NFT Bastards chat. Other artists also began to come forward.
It’s not normal for an artist, entertainer, musician, writer, or journalist to be afraid to express themself due to censorship. People don’t want a conditional checkmark put next to their name — or for persecution to begin. And I understand perfectly this fear of doing something wrong, the fear of politically motivated censorship.
Both novice artists and ones who are fairly well-known in creative circles decided to participate. Everyone has different practices and styles. This is what makes such large-scale collaborations unique — something unified and organic is born from such a variety of styles and images.
Artist and the auction’s art director
For me this is the first project where there’s an opportunity to combine artistic work with civic expression — and this is a powerful incentive to participate. The story of Meduza [being designated] a “foreign agent” provokes a strong sense of danger and fear in me. But in my work, I can clearly express my personal disapproval of such cases — and call this an unacceptable injustice.
NFT Bastards co-founder
I decided to support Meduza because I’ve been reading it from the very beginning, I love the special reports and I’ve been listening to the podcasts for years. For me, Meduza is first and foremost a source of quality materials with excellent editors, stories, and investigations, which are mesmerizing. For me, this is a story of personal indignation, because it’s simply my favorite media outlet that’s under threat.
Artist and one of the organizers
Participants were recruited for the auction regardless of their skill and level of work — we only evaluated their desire to help a common cause. Such collaborations are quite common in NFT, most often they are created to improve the skills of the participants. Making money or drawing attention to artists is important, but not paramount.
As far as I know, the most famous collaborations in the Russian Crypto-art community are carried out by the communities NFT Bastards, XLIXmerger, NFF, NFT256, and NFT Russia. Such initiatives aren’t so common abroad, but there is, for example, a community [called] Everyones 5000 people, which is preparing the largest collaboration in the world. Every one of us has something to say and every word is important.
Nice! Whose work is up for sale? And how many artists are there?
Approximately 80 artists will exhibit their works at the auction (and that’s a lot!).
The list of artists includes: Artem Loskutov, who uses an artistic technique called “Dubinopis” (painting using the blows of a truncheon); Evgeny Zubkov, who creates cyberpunk-style art; street artist Philippenzo, who’s best known for the piece “Potselui” (“Kisses”); Rinatto Lʼbank, who uses images of human figures in his work; and many, many others.
The event’s soundtrack is a composition by the Russian electronic hip-hop duo AIGEL. The auction is also being supported by journalist Leonid Parfenov (who recorded an audio version of the “foreign agent” notice that introduces Meduza’s Russian-language videos and podcasts).
Why did these artists want to get involved?
I decided to participate in the auction as soon as I heard about this initiative from my colleagues. Because I’m outraged by the actions of the government, which does nothing good for our lives and simply throws shit on everything living and real, trampling and branding anyone it doesn’t like. I have great respect for all independent media, including Meduza. And though I, unfortunately, don’t have the possibility to support it financially now, I can invest in its protection with my skill and talent as an artist.
In my own artistic style, I depicted a letter “M,” which emerges over a screen with noise [the pixel pattern of static]. The Kremlin really wants to drown out the information signals that it doesn’t control, but it’s within our power to make sure that the voice of truth and freedom continues to sound in the media sphere.
This auction is a collective statement [from] almost one hundred artists opposing the destruction of independent journalism, opposing censorship, and opposing government propaganda. Such unions are rather rare, so I appreciate the opportunity to be among the participants in this event.
I want to support Meduza, not just symbolically but also financially — I’m a Russian citizen and I believe Meduza works in my interests, for me, so I’m giving Meduza my fee.
My work is a black, 60x60 canvas battered with a rubber truncheon in such a way that golden marks from the blows fold into the letter “m” — the Meduza logo. The finishing stroke was filmed on video and will be part of the overall work. The canvas itself will be put up for a parallel auction on my Facebook.
I simply couldn’t pass up such an initiative. It’s obvious that the development of any state is impossible without independent media, it’s the most important public institution. And I hope that we will be able to support Meduza during this difficult time.
My work metaphorically reflects a simple truth — “you can’t hide the truth.” And I’ll leave the interpretation of the rest of the details to the viewer.
I’m participating in the event in support of Meduza not so much out of professional solidarity. I’m interested as a reader of [this] outlet — so many newsrooms have already closed or changed beyond recognition, there’s almost nothing to read! And I’m protesting as a citizen: social life independent of the authorities has been infringed upon throughout the 2000s. I’m not a loyalist and there are many such people, and we need a habitat. We are [standing up] for Meduza as we are for ourselves and for others.
Meduza developer Ilya Borisov on why he’s putting his artwork up for auction
Ilya Borisov (Shvembldr)
My hobby, and for some time now practically my main occupation, is generative art. I don’t draw anything by hand, but rather “write the images” with code. I put the concept of how it will look in the code: the composition, shape, color, transparency, and so on. And also a large portion of the probabilities for the main parameters. And each time I click “generate,” an image is rendered that is easily recognizable — like this is a spontaneous work, but each copy of it is unique. I have a website, Instagram, and Twitter where I post it all. And my NFTs are sold on the platform hicetnunc.xyz.
I’m taking part in this project because I work at Meduza, support Meduza, and sympathize with Meduza. And also because this is an interesting project showing how, in modern reality, art is able to influence the world.
In my artwork for Meduza I used several basic elements. The monochrome ring and the elements in the background and around “Meduza” — this is Putin’s geometric, Soviet world: it strangles all living things in its squares. But Meduza is colorful — it resists and throws colored balls all around it to color all of the surroundings. And a net is thrown over it [Meduza], trying to stick to it and immobilize it. But it’s unsuccessful.
I want to buy something from the NFT auction! Are there instructions on how to do it?
Yes, there are! Here’s the simplest explanation of how to make a purchase
Firstly, you’ll need to register a wallet with an ETH cryptocurrency (Ether or Ethereum) and add some cash to it. To do this, you’re best off using a cryptocurrency exchange service like Coinbase or Binance. This will allow you to exchange regular money for cryptocurrency. Keep in mind that there’s a small fee for every transaction on the Ethereum blockchain. After that, go to the auction page, select a piece of digital artwork that you like, link your crypto wallet, and place your bid!
Instructions for buying Bitcoin
Translated by Eilish Hart