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World’s First Major NFT Exhibition to Take Place in Beijing

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Been hearing a lot about NFTs recently?

The trend has caught fire and Beijing is set to get in on the act. UCCA Labs, a subsidiary of UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art which focuses on brand collaboration in the Chinese capital, is putting on what they’re calling the world’s first major NFT exhibition.

Titled “Virtual Niche—Have you ever seen memes in the mirror?,” the exhibition is set to open on March 26 and run until April 11, and will feature work by 60 artists. The show will be curated by Sun Bohan, the CEO of BlockCreateArt, which just raised 2 million USD in angel funding.

But what are NFTs? The name stands for non-fungible tokens, which are unique tokens that live on a blockchain but are not mutually interchangeable. Unlike Bitcoin, which has a specific value, the value of an NFT can fluctuate, with some of these unique tokens selling for incredible amounts of money recently. NFTs have been around since 2017, with the first one put out on the Ethereum blockchain. However, the medium has just recently become massively popular, with artists and celebrities selling off a variety of media, from digital art, to music, to digital signatures, for insane amounts of money.

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Chinese Government Forms New Committee to Regulate Blockchain Technology

Famous names in the crypto art world, like Beeple (aka Mike Winkelmann), Fewocious and Mad Dog Jones are set to have work in the exhibition. To get a sense for how popular NFTs have become of late, Beeple’s “Everydays — The First 5000 Days” sold for 69 million USD at an auction at Christie’s on March 11, 2021. While Beeple had never sold a work for more than 100 USD before October, the sale makes him one of the top three most valuable artists in the world right now.

Thus far crypto art has largely been met with some bemusement and derision from folks on Chinese social media platforms. The story of a cryptocurrency group which burned an original Banksy and sold a digital copy of the image for 382,000 USD, more than 10 times what the print was valued at, caught attention on Weibo in the past few days.

Choice comments from netizens include, “It’s boring. Isn’t the value of paintings that the painter puts every emotion in his creation? What is the use of electronic maps?” and “obviously this group is crazy.”

Cover image: UCCA Lab in Beijing

Bryan Grogan
    Bryan is RADII's Culture Editor. He is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with an interest in culture stories with a social bent. He once correctly guessed all 151 original Pokemon in seven minutes for an online quiz.