The Digital Diaspora: Liberating Black Creativity
Curated by Diana Sinclair
Empowered by Towards Utopia
By WM, June 2021
From the press release:
The Digital Diaspora is an art exhibition, public installation, and fundraising NFT auction taking place over the weekend of Juneteenth (6/19/21) in New York City. Celebrating the work of Black artists from around the world, The Digital Diaspora explores new territory in the avant garde NFT space. Curated by Award-winning artist and activist Diana Sinclair, TDD builds off the pioneering work of Alondra Nelson to expand the scope of Afrofuturism.
Sinclair, in partnership with Towards Utopia, has laid out an ambitious and far-reaching program, beginning with an in-person opening event at Superchief Gallery NFT on June 19th. At x pm the same day, a 17 lot auction launches on Foundation (foundation.app), the proceeds of which will in part benefit GLITS —which provides housing and guidance for Black trans people—and Herstory Dao, a digital collective dedicated to the funding and preservation of creative projects by Black women and Non-Binary artists. Additionally, selected works from the exhibition will be displayed on LinkNYC screens across the city [for how long].
“It’s especially appropriate for an art show promoting Black artists to be held on the day that celebrates Black freedom,” says Sinclair. “Black freedom allowed for the growth of Black art in America, yet there’s still work to be done to give more Black artists even greater exposure to a wider audience. Now we can add digital platforms and technology to our efforts to not only widen the space for Black artists, but to address the intersectional marginalization of Black people.”
The institutional support for TDD reflects both the rapid evolution Afrofuturism has undergone this century as well as the confidence the wider art market has in Diana Sinclair and the 17 artists she has assembled.
“Following Itzel Yard’s groundbreaking sale on Foundation last month,” notes Lindsay Howard, Foundation’s Head of Community, “we're excited to support Towards Utopia in their effort to uplift and center Black artists. The auction will partially benefit herstoryDAO, an organization committed to furthering the careers of Black femme artists, which will have lasting impacts on the NFT community at large.”
The exhibition and auction will present the work of Black artists who are leaders in the NFT space, many with prominent sales on Foundation. The artists include: BLACKSNEAKERS, Dada Boipelo, Em0n33y, Itzel Yard aka ix shells, Ludrick J. Fortune aka Jae, Kai Morton, LATASHÁ + JAH., Lauren Washington aka Lomedia, Edwin Harmon IV aka LUZ, Lyonna Lyu ::, Nicholas-Constantine Cephas, Moonsundiamond, Serwah Attafuah, Moyosore Briggs, Tyler Givens aka tyl000rd, & Yosnier.
About Diana Sinclair, Curator:
Diana Sinclair is, for the lack of a better term, a true prodigy. Only 17 years old, she first began making art seriously at nine, and had her debut professional gallery show at 14. Late last year she was named a Photography finalist in the YoungArts national competition, and her work focusing on Black and/or gender identity persuasively champions her commitment to social activism; indeed, at its fundamental core, Sinclair’s artistic expression and activism is change, supports change, or creates change.
About Towards Utopia:
Towards Utopia is a trans-feminist, anti-racist organization focused on art, education, and resources. They provide funding to the Black Trans community, and other groups in need, by raising money on behalf of boots-on-the-ground organizations. They also provide material resources to the community by participating in mutual aid events that bring food and clothing to people directly. They use social media to provide the public with anti-racist education and highlight available resources to POC and gender non-conforming individuals such as grants and employment opportunities. Their 2020 print sale, featuring artists such as Nan Goldin, Richie Shazam, Ryan McGinley, Charles Caesar, and Lia Clay, raised nearly $100,000, benefitting GLITS, FOR THE GWORLS, and SWOP.
Foundation is a platform that aims to build a new creative economy—a world where creators can use the Ethereum blockchain to value their online expression in entirely new ways, and build stronger connections with their supporters. Foundation bridges crypto and culture to foster a network of mutual support between artists, creators, and collectors. We’re forging a community-driven path, providing culturally pioneering curation, and sharing our tools with the rapidly evolving community of developers who are excited to define this future with us. We want anyone and everyone who cares about the future of digital expression to be a part of it. Since launching in February 2021, creators have directly earned over $75M in NFT sales on Foundation overall, and almost 500 artists have earned more than $20,000. There are more than 5,000 unique bidders on the site. Real-time updates on our fast-growing market live in the Foundation terminal.
About Superchief Gallery NFT:
Superchief Gallery is the world's 1st physical dedicated NFT gallery space. Since they opened their first digital art gallery in Soho in 2016, Superchief has held the belief that digital-native artwork is an essential art form to include as part of the larger art movement of our era. They have been running their version of a traditional art gallery space since 2012 and by 2016 they knew well that there wasn't a clear way to monetize digital artwork. Regardless, they felt strongly that just because they couldn't sell it at the present time, didn’t mean it should be kept apart from the art community at large.
About herstory DAO:
herstoryDAO is an artist led DAO focused on collecting and preserving the art and culture of black femmes and black nonbinary artists through NFTs, and on producing and incubating transformative cryptonative art and media by marginalized creatives. herstoryDAO uses a protocol built on ancient principles of socio-economic equity building known as “tribal ownership” wherein access to assets and creative networks are communal rights that are shared equally to each “tribe” member (regardless of socio-economic standing). Through the model of tribal ownership, herstoryDAO hopes to inspire many more tribal web3 communities to ethically harness the power that blockchain enabled technology allow, and through the collection, preservation and celebration of black and marginalized voices in the crypto world, herstoryDAO hopes to redefine activism in the digital age and serve as an immemorial vehicle through which black femme art is housed, contained and produced. Serving as both a collector DAO and the first NFT artist studio that prioritizes the narratives of black womxn, herstoryDAO is in and of itself a revolution. It is at once both a decentralized automated organization, and an invitation to collective dreaming, sharing and mutual stakeholding in the digital landscapes and metaverses to come.
GLITS creates holistic solutions to the health and housing crises faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals experiencing systemic discrimination at intersecting oppressions impacted by racism and criminalization, through a lens of harm reduction, human rights principles, social justice and community empowerment, imbued with a commitment to empowerment and pride in finding solutions in our own community. Centering Black trans leadership, GLITS is committed to building future community leaders and is grounded in a multi-generational approach to growth. GLITS recognizes housing as a cornerstone of health and wellness and has created sustainable stable housing through GLITS I SOUTH & The Leadership Academy including 12 individual apartments with leadership, healing and educational services. Finally, GLITS address disparity in health care and health resilience for the LGBTQIA+ community through our preliminary work to establish a dedicated health clinic co-designed with health practitioners and LGBTQIA+ community members. GLITS initiatives are groundbreaking and each is being documented to serve as a pilot project exemplifying approaches that can and will be applied in other cities around the country and the world. WM