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January 12, 2023

A New Model of Charitable Giving in Web3

Crypto and contemporary artists are joining forces for Cure³ in support of Cure Parkinson’s
Credit: Yazid, Step by Step (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist
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A New Model of Charitable Giving in Web3
As a creative and a technologist I’m thrilled to be able to contribute to such a great cause by creating art using NFTs. It speaks to the accessibility and transformative potential of the blockchain. (Yazid)

This week sees the launch of the fourth edition of Cure³, the critically acclaimed selling exhibition devised by Artwise Curators to raise awareness and funds for curative Parkinson’s research. This is the first time NFTs have been included as part of the sale, which is a collaboration between Cure Parkinson’s, Bonhams, and Artwise, with support from fxhash.

Specially commissioned works by a group of leading generative artists are to go on sale on Thursday 12 January at 6pm GMT / 1pm ET alongside the many participating contemporary artists, including Tracy Emin, Mona Hatoum, and Yinka Shonibare. The generative artists involved in Cure³ are Anna Carreras, Anna Lucia, Lunarean, Nat Sarkissian, Marcelo Soria-Rodríguez, Iskra Velitchkova, and Yazid.

Here, the curators of the generative art exhibition, Foteini Valeonti and Alex Estorick, explain the potential of NFTs as a tool for charitable giving.

Lunarean, Element, 2022. Courtesy of the artist
It’s an honor to be invited to take part in Cure³ alongside such talented artists and to be able to support the crucial work of Parkinson’s research. I’m looking forward to sharing my work and showcasing the innovative and exciting medium of generative art to a wider audience. (Lunarean)

Despite their increasing ubiquity, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) remain elusive as a concept to traditional collectors. Yet, in recent years, artworks tokenized as NFTs have surpassed the auction records of many new and old masters. Thanks to their ability to provide a “digital original” for all kinds of different art forms — from digital illustration to photography to poetry — NFTs are having a life-changing impact on previously marginalized creators who have never been able to earn a living from their work.

Anna Lucia, action; system, 2023. Courtesy of the artist
I’m so proud to have created something that will not only bring people joy but also help the fight against a devastating condition like Parkinson’s. I hope my art can be a small contribution toward the goals of Cure³. (Anna Lucia)

Thanks to new Web3 technologies like blockchain and smart contracts, these crypto artists can now verify the provenance of their work themselves and access collectors directly, which was previously inconceivable within the gallery model. They can also receive an automatic resale royalty for the ongoing sales of their work. These opportunities help to explain why many traditional fine artists are now also embracing NFTs, especially those who work with ephemeral media that is difficult to commodify.

Building on previous NFT experiments by art-world luminaries Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, this year witnessed the entry of Marina Abramović into the NFT conversation with her project, The Hero 25FPS (2022). For Abramović, “…the older generation of artists likes to ridicule these Web3 artists […] The same happened to me in the 1970s.”

Iskra Velitchkova, NIÄKAK — Memories of a kid. A train journey and a baked apple, 2022. Courtesy of the artist
Cure³ bridges contemporary and generative art for a good and powerful cause. I feel obliged and privileged to be a part of this. Thanks to everyone who made it happen. (Iskra Velitchkova)

Generative artists who use code to generate visual outputs have also been ignored by the mainstream art world for the past 60 years. But the principle of writing instructions (or algorithms) for another person to execute works of art has been fundamental to conceptual art since Sol LeWitt.

By creating a market for code-based art, the NFT has also brought about a revival — indeed a golden age — of generative art. This is not only righting a wrong of art history, it is also renewing painting, since high-resolution digital outputs invariably appear most sumptuous when hung on a wall.

Nat Sarkissian, Eucalyptus and Sagebrush, 2022. Courtesy of the artist
I’m thrilled for and humbled by the opportunity to create art that could help progress the cure for Parkinson’s Disease. I’m also pleased to see generative art placed alongside well-established mediums and artists. I connect deeply with generative art, and seeing it gain viewership and interest over the past few years has been wonderful. (Nat Sarkissian)

The generative artists participating in Cure³ are all leading figures among the new generation of digital creators. Yet all of them have had to rely on the NFT as a means of generating their own independent markets. As a result, they are more than traditional creators, they are creative entrepreneurs who are forging new careers in the creator economy.

Marcelo Soria-Rodríguez, All that remains | All that, remains | All, that remains, 2022-12. Courtesy of the artist
Having dealt with Parkinson’s in my family, I am grateful for having the chance to contribute my grain of sand towards research for potential cures, alongside so many great artists that represent a mixture of the established and the upcoming. (Marcelo Soria-Rodriguez)

For philanthropy, NFTs also represent a powerful new fundraising medium. In the first half of 2021, charitable donations on the blockchain surpassed $1 billion. Indeed, crypto donors remain a highly charitable demographic. By inviting leading crypto artists to participate in Cure3 2023, we aim to maximize proceeds for Cure Parkinson’s clinical trials and their pioneering medical research. This exhibition can serve as a new model of charitable giving in Web3 — the next iteration of the Internet.

Anna Carreras, Garbuix, 2022. Courtesy of the artist
Garbuix (2022) is an abstract generative work showing how our thoughts, body, and life can sometimes get messy. As an image, it relates to how Parkinson’s disease can affect and alter one’s life, but also how strength and hope are always there. I am really glad to contribute a work to this exhibition and to help find a cure for Parkinson’s, a vital mission that touches quite close to me. (Anna Carreras)

Like all new and disruptive technologies, NFTs have had their share of criticism. Until recently, it revolved around the technology’s environmental impact. Although green NFTs have long existed, the majority of NFT trading takes place on the Ethereum blockchain, which in the past was notoriously energy intensive.

However, on September 15, 2022, Ethereum completed an important upgrade known as The Merge, which drastically reduced its energy consumption. As a result, criticism has now shifted towards fraudulent activity and bad actors exploiting the infant stages of the technology. Extra care is therefore required from crypto art collectors. Despite such challenges, our overarching goal for the special exhibition of Cure³ 2023 is to leverage NFTs as a new fundraising medium in order to fight a degenerative disease that affects so many.

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Foteini Valeonti is the Lead Author of “Crypto Collectibles, Museum Funding and OpenGLAM: Challenges, Opportunities and the Potential of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs),” one of the first in-depth studies of the NFT as it relates to the cultural heritage sector. Dr Valeonti is a Research Fellow at UCL and the Founder of USEUM Collectibles, a UCL spin-out company, providing research-driven consulting to cultural institutions on NFTs and Web3, whose clients include major institutions such as the Natural History Museum in London. She holds a BSc in Computer Science and a PhD in Digital Humanities. She is currently advising policymakers while helping major museums, companies, and smaller heritage institutions to leverage NFTs for public benefit.

Alex Estorick is Editor-in-Chief at Right Click Save.

Cure3 is delighted to present works by a specially commissioned selection of generative artists minting NFTs. Curated by Foteini Valeonti and Alex Estorick, with the support of fxhash, the works will be presented at Bonhams, London and for sale to raise money and help find a cure for Parkinson’s. Works will be available for purchase from 6pm GMT / 1pm ET on Thursday 12 January on various platforms, all accessible via the Cure3 website.