NFTs: Putting the fun in non-fungible tokens is a four-part digital series that takes participants on a journey exploring how blockchain’s impact on the art market has something much broader to teach us not only about what we value but about how we reimagine the art world. Participants will learn from experts about the history of NFTs and why the NFT phenomenon has the potential to upend systems of artistic production, ownership, collecting, and audience engagement with art. The live series has concluded, but all four episodes can be replayed for free below!
The series is hosted by Nora Burnett Abrams, MCA Denver Mark G. Falcone Director, and Amy Whitaker, leading blockchain researcher and Assistant Professor in Visual Arts Administration at New York University’s Steinhardt School. Each episode invites a variety of experts and practitioners—including blockchain inventors, researchers, artists, collectors, museum professionals, and market specialists—to participate in collectively defining the contours of the NFT phenomenon.
Get a taste with our trailer:
EPISODE 1: ORIGIN STORIES
In episode one, Origin Stories, participants learn how and why the blockchain was invented in the first place, how it emerged from a knowledge story not a money story, and how we can view blockchain as a still evolving art project unto itself. In this episode, Abrams and Whitaker build an understanding of the timeline of blockchain technology from creation to today, define what an NFT is, and open the questions for now NFTs might change entrenched power structures in the art world, inviting artists into new forms of economic sustainability, and influence how we think about ownership and value in the larger world.
This episode streamed live on October 20, 2021, but if you couldn't make it, no worries! Watch the full playback of the event below.
EPISODE 2 - ARTISTS + MAKING
In episode two, Abrams and Whitaker talk about and not around NFTs by talking with artists who are making them. Featured artists include Kevin McCoy, who made the very first NFT in 2014 (and made the blockchain work Public Key/Private Key with Jennifer McCoy); Addie Wagenknecht, who straddles both the art world and blockchain world as an advisor to NFT platforms; and Dread Scott, whose NFT White Man for Sale made headlines while making a statement about the historical fungibility of human beings. Participants will see hands-on how artists have approached the production of an NFT, how they think about NFTs politically, and what they think NFTs mean for the future of art.
This episode streamed live on October 27, 2021, but if you couldn't make it, no worries! Watch the full playback of the event below.
Episode 3: Collectors + Buying
In episode three, we talk with Beatriz Ramos and Judy Mam — the founders of the collaborative drawing platform Dada — on their Creeps & Weirdos NFT sale, as well as collectors, market experts, and auction-house practitioners on the complexities of buying and collecting NFTs artistically, technologically, and legally under frameworks that include anti-money-laundering and privacy regulation.
This episode streamed live on November 3, 2021, but if you couldn't make it, no worries! Watch the full playback of the event below.
EPISODE 4: EQUITY + FUTURE STATES
In the final episode of the series, Abrams and Whitaker explore who is still excluded in the NFT phenomenon, the possibilities for greater inclusion and equity, and the ways in which NFTs could keep evolving in the future.
This episode streamed live on November 10, 2021, but if you couldn't make it, no worries! Watch the full playback of the event below.
About the hosts
Nora Burnett Abrams is the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver Mark G. Falcone Director. Prior to this role, she was the museum’s chief curator, responsible for its exhibition program and special artists’ projects. Her career began at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she worked on the Sol LeWitt on the Roof and Robert Rauschenberg: Combines exhibitions. Since arriving in Denver in 2010, she has organized over 35 exhibitions and authored or contributed over a dozen accompanying publications. Recent projects highlighting unusual or unknown episodes in artists’ careers, including Francesca Woodman: Portrait of a Reputation (2019), Basquiat Before Basquiat (2017), as well as the first survey of Senga Nengudi’s R.S.V.P. sculptures (2014). She has taught at New York University and lectured throughout the country on contemporary art. She holds art history degrees from Stanford University (B.A.), Columbia University (M.A.), and a Ph.D. from the New York University Institute of Fine Ar
Amy Whitaker is a leading blockchain researcher in the arts and assistant professor in visual arts administration at New York University’s Steinhardt School. Her research explores the frictions between art and markets and proposes pioneering systems of economic support for artists using fractional equity and blockchain. Her academic papers have appeared in major journals such as Management Science and the International Journal of Cultural Policy. Her work on Equity for Artists was a finalist in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Competition. Her research has been cited in the Financial Times, Time Magazine, Fast Company, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Harper’s, and many others. She the author of three books including Museum Legs, Art Thinking, and the forthcoming Economics of Visual Art. She holds an MBA from Yale and an MFA from University College London. She has worked on blockchain as an advisor to the company Bitmark since 2014. Her profile of Stuart Haber and Scott Stornetta, the researchers whose 1991 paper is cited in the Bitcoin white paper, was published in the Wall Street Journal.