Black Lives Matter: Activism in Crypto Art

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By an and Jose Andres

For the past week, as witnesses to the brutal events and the resulting protests unfolding across the United States – and then across the world, many crypto artists aligned themselves on the side of social justice, using art a an act of protest against racial inequality. Calling for change, they produced powerful artworks addressing the struggle against racism, police violence and inequality. 

This article offers a close look at the crypto art space, including SuperRare, Makersplace, Async Art, KnownOrigin, Rarible, Mintbase, OpenSea and DADA Collective. Through these platforms, crypto artists combine their creative power and expressions with activism to fight for social justice and equality. 

Among the artists and platforms listed below, many have donated their sales to organizations that pledge their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Activism in Crypto Art

Activism is the act to challenge and change power relations in society. Art is the expression to move people emotionally, alter their perceptions in the head, body and soul. Therefore Art Activism is the practice of generating emotional and perceptual experiences that prompt acts to change society.

Throughout history the most effective civic actors have married the arts with campaigns for social change, using aesthetic approaches to provide a critical perspective on the world as it is and imagine the world as it could be. In the struggle for Civil Rights for African Americans in the US, for example, activists drew upon the stories and songs and participatory culture of the black churches, staged media-savvy stunts like Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus, played white racist reaction against peaceful protesters as a sympathetic passion play during the campaign to desegregate Birmingham, Alabama, and, most famously, used imaginative imagery (and popular cultural references) in a speech to call America to task for its racist past and articulate a dream of a better future.

Why Artistic Activism by Stephen Duncombe and Steve Lambert

Across the internet, crypto art engages people around the globe who are otherwise separated, in a movement demanding for justice and equality– a goal that is shared by all of humanity. Without physical limitations (especially during the time of Covid-19), crypto art platforms allow artists and collectors to make immediate responses, actions and contributions to the Black Lives Matter movement through art.

This #cryptoart community is 🔥 & 🖤 . It’s been very meaningful to me this week to join fellow artists, collectors, and platforms in the lane of art activism. It’s the best way I’m able to contribute to the voices, minds, and bodies constructively seeking change and justice.

Matt Kane

Together, crypto artists question the world as it is, envision a world as it should be, and join forces to fight for a better world of the future.

I Can’t Breathe, Osinachi
On May 25, 2020, an African-American man, George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis. This is just one of the many incidents in which black people have been brutalised and killed by the police in the US. So, as expected, it has sparked global outrage, even leading to the arrest of the officer. This piece recollects that event, pointing out “I CAN’T BREATHE”, which Floyd repeated said as the officer choked him with his knee. It is a sad phrase that we have heard over and again in cases of police brutality against African-Americans. As a black person, I am deeply touched by this. Part of the proceeds from this NFT will go to the Black Lives Matter movement. #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd
8 minutes 46 seconds – In Memoriam George Floyd, Matt Kane
4K Animated GIF, 3840 x 2160 All proceeds from this initial sale will go to Campaign Zero: https://www.joincampaignzero.org/ On May 31st, there was an interaction between Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo and the Floyd family in which CNN reporter Sara Sidner was a conduit, asking the family’s question of the chief. “I want to know if he’s going to get justice for my brother, arrest all the officers, and convict them.” How Chief Arradondo answered, removing his cap, should not soon be forgot. “Silence and inaction, you’re complicit,” he said of the officers he fired the day after George Floyd was murdered. If we are to see meaningful change in this world, we need leaders who are willing to buck the old culture and put forth new models. Chief Arradondo’s words set a new standard of expectation for accountability. Change arrives by leadership from within the institutions we seek change from. Therefore, we must not allow these rare interruptions to the status quo become covered over by noise. To create this animation, I introduced the database of this painting to various amounts of noise, to simulate the chaos created by so many voices speaking at once. No matter the noise, facts and the record of words spoken remain crystallized. This artwork is part of a larger series in which I investigate the people and messages featured on and aesthetics of fiat currency. I have released the first frame of this animation as a high resolution JPG, under a non-commercial license. Whomever connects to this artwork can freely print it, post it, use however suits the cause for justice. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0 Additional Assets can be found here: https://collect.mattkane.com/minted-works/8-minutes-46-seconds-in-memoriam-george-floyd I ask future collectors whom sell or trade this NFT to consider taking any amount and donating toward a cause that would serve to honor the memory of George Floyd.
Rider in the protest, goldweard
Cast in bronze, a protester holds up a sign while riding a horse. Based on a video by dreadheadcowboy where he claims to have stolen a police horse while participating in the George Floyd protests.
BlackOutTuesday, Max Retoka
Solidarity, mick
The Power Fist, first used in 1917, is a symbol of unity, strength, defiance, and resistance. It has served to represent oppressed peoples and their fight against those that put unjust actions upon them. It shall continue to do so when any abusers of power continue quell the rights, freedoms, and voices of those that would challenge them. I hope a day comes that it is not needed for we have come to learn that we are a human race first and foremost.
No Peace Without Justice, jivinci
Depicting the death of yet another man of colour , at the hands of police agression. This piece shows the outrage this event sparked through minneaopolis and the world. In solidarity with everyone who got hurt and the death of George Floyd on 25th may, which became the last straw of a decade worth fighting for equality. Part of the proceeds of this piece will go to the #blacklivesmatter movement original painting by Caravaggio (1608)
THE BELLS OF FREEDOM, miss al simpson
All of the proceeds of the sale of this artwork will go to the Black Lives Matter movement, in memory of George Floyd. On August 28, 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place. A. Philip Randolph led off the day, closing his speech with the promise that “We here today are only the first wave. When we leave, it will be to carry the civil rights revolution home with us into every nook and cranny of the land, and we shall return again and again to Washington in ever growing numbers until total freedom is ours.” On that famous day, departing from his prepared notes, Martin Luther King launched into the most famous part of his speech: “And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.” From there, he built to his dramatic ending, in which he announced the tolling of the bells of freedom from one end of the country to the other. “And when this happens…we will be able to speed up that day when all God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”
BROKEN, XCOPY
Proceeds will be donated to bailproject.org
Fiat est violentiam – Police State, Carlos Marcial
The 8th part of the “Fiat est violentiam” series was inspired by this quote: “When police departments are sued for police brutality, that money should come from the unions and pension funds, rather than the taxpayers. Power of the purse. When you cut off the unlimited cash supply, police will begin to give a shit.” – Todd Hagopian | 5,000 x 4,045px PNG (rendered at 100 dpi)
Black to the Future, Yura Miron
Afrofuturism is the reimagining of a future filled with arts, science and technology seen through a black lens. The term was conceived a quarter-century ago by white author Mark Dery in his essay “Black to the Future,” which looks at speculative fiction within the African diaspora. The essay rests on a series of interviews with black content creators. Dery laid out the questions driving the philosophy of Afrofuturism: Can a community whose past has been deliberately rubbed out, and whose energies have subsequently been consumed by the search for legible traces of its history, imagine possible futures? Furthermore, isn’t the unreal estate of the future already owned by the technocrats, futurologists, streamliners, and set designers ― white to a man ― who have engineered our collective fantasies? All prosceeds from sale of this artwork will be donated to the Black Visions Collective. “BLVC is committed to a long term vision in which ALL Black lives not only matter, but are able to thrive. What we know to be true in order to create this world is that oppressed people, especially Black people, need to build collective power in order to create systems transformation.” www.blackvisionsmn.org
ˈrīət, Animatttic
“See if we keep them silent, then they’ll resort to violence, and that’s how we criminalize change.” – Rou Reynolds, Enter Shikari
The Battle for Justice, Bit Errror
Inspired by the Battle of Los Angeles RATM album cover
All proceeds will be donated to blacklivesmatter.com
JUSTICE, Anonymous Nobody
An Injustice met with Justice.
Choose the Man You Will Become, Osinachi
The work of 20+ unique owners coming together in true Async community within
Osinachi’s “Choose the Man You Will Become.”
BlackOutTuesday #BlackLivesMatter #GeorgeFloyd
Breaking News!, An0nym0us Nobody
Black Lives Matter.
This is my first non-promotional release that is not 1/1. I feel that extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures, and I’d like to get this piece in as many hands as possible in order to create awareness, show my support for the Black Lives Matter movement, and to help fund a cause that is very important to humanity.
100% of all sales will go to the Black Lives Matter movement at this address:
https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
Justice for Some 1.0, CryptoChild
Justice for Some: George Floyd lived and tragically died knowing this. Now, more and more citizens are discovering this: if they try to exercise their rights they are met with “Overwhelming force. Domination.” To fight for Justice means taking on the ‘biggest gang in town’ Justice for some leads to Justice for none.
This is America, Josie
This Artwork was created to honor the lives of Eric Garner, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Natasha McKenna, Walter Scott, Bettie Jones, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Breona Taylor, George Floyd, and so many other black people that were senselessly murdered by police officers.
If you decide to sell this NFT, please consider donating a portion of the proceeds to George Floyd Memorial Fund https://www.gofundme.com/f/georgefloyd or organizations like NAACP that are fighting to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.
Black America, RETRONYMOUS
NFT from the ‘Black America’ series. Black Lives Matter.

No Justice No Peace
Art project by the DADA Collective in collaboration with Dapphero, in support of Black Lives Matter and police reform
99% of killings by police in the United States have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime in the period from 2013 to 2019. Images of their victims circulate massively in the media but there seems to be a wall of silence around the names or photographs of the police officers that have been accused of killing unarmed Black people. They are not easy to find. As we say the names of the victims, we must also remember the names and faces of the killers. This is an aggregator of the police officers that have been involved or may be involved in the future in the violent deaths of unarmed Black people. The names and faces of the perpetrators, as well as the names of their victims and the circumstances of their deaths are now registered. immutably on the blockchain. All the information contained in the tokens is sourced from public records. A wallet has been created in the name of each victim. Each wallet holds a token with the image of their killers. The private keys of the wallets that control these tokens have been destroyed. No one controls these tokens. These tokens can’t be censored, modified, or taken down.

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Jose Andres

Jose Andres is a digital artist exploring virtual worlds, extended reality and cryptoart

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Art & Cultural Program Director @SuperRare

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