The curator of a major NFT exhibition that opened on Wednesday at a Sydney fine art gallery says it’s the fulfilment of a dream of his — but not due to anything to do with tokens or blockchains.

Instead, the Satellite exhibition at the Twenty Twenty Six Gallery in Bondi Beach represents an elevation of three-dimensional artwork, says David Porte Beckefeld, who “sculpts” his artwork by hand in virtual reality.

“I’ve always gone to contemporary art museums, art galleries, and it’s always paintings, sculptures, video works,” Beckefeld told Stockhead at the gallery’s press preview on Wednesday.

“But I never really saw 3D art being represented — and knowing a close circle of friends and the 3D community at large creating such stunning artworks, it’s always been like a dream of mine to have these works exhibited in a contemporary art space, and fashioned with the same level of care that goes into those sorts of exhibitions.

“That was our aim for Satellite.”

The NFT world sometimes blurs the distinction between art and collectibles, Beckefeld said.

“You wouldn’t go to the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) at Circular Quay and see basketball cards or Bored Apes or things like that,” he said.

“If you had a painting of a basketball card and an abstract painted work, it’s a bit unfair to just pool them together in a room together just because they’re paintings — which happens a little bit with NFTs.

“It’s like, these are all NFTs, they all go here, but there’s actually far more diversity in the NFT space than people realise, and I just wanted to bring that contemporary refinement.”

NFTs are helping digital art gain legitimacy, Beckefeld said, because unfortunately in the art world is like so many other industries, in that “money talks”.

The Satellite exhibition. (Supplied / Mac Harrison)

“Digital art’s always been there, digital art goes back as far as the ’60s, in a very infantile exploration into that space with early computing, but more recently NFTs have definitely given it more of a boost into the public eye,” he said.

The exhibition features over 50 works by Australian and international artists including Beeple, Trevor Jones, Chris Golden, Serwah Artafu, Yambo, David Porte Beckefeld, LIŔONA, Mikaela Stafford and Jessica Ticchio. (Most are short, abstract video clips displayed on high-definition televisions on the walls.)

Western Sydney artist Serwah Attafuah’s Agora(phobia) is one of the NFTs on display at Satellite.


Artists asked to speak out

Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg opened the exhibition, saying that it was only fair that digital artists should have the ability to monetise their work as musicians and other artists have.

“And that is what I think that NFTs agenda can do. It’s only fair that people can get paid for their work over time and in perpetuity.

Bragg said that “very soon” there would be an announcement made about a board of tax review into “all facets of digital assets”, and it was important that artists speak up to ensure that Australia’s laws and regulations were NFT-friendly.

Senator Andrew Bragg opening the exhibition. (Supplied)

“If we have an uncompetitive tax system, that is inadvertently capturing transactions that shouldn’t be captured for tax purposes, then we will never be a leading NFT jurisdiction.”

‘Extraordinary’ impact

Supplied / Mac Harrison

Satellite director Katie Tholo of the Revelo Art Agency, a former employee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, said that the exhibition was first conceived 10 months ago.

“Although NFTs are not new, undeniably over the past 12 months the impact that they’ve had, and the shift in attention from the public, has been extraordinary.

“And the really made the public ask these questions around, what is the power of this technology, and how is it benefiting creatives?”

NFTs have built-in “incorruptible documentation” about their history, transaction values and origin, which is a major breakthrough in the concept of digital ownership and digital scarcity, she said.

“For creatives and for artists, that is a huge breakthrough,” Tholo said, “because not only does it support them in terms of allowing them to retain self-sovereignty of the artwork, it allows them to build new communities that allows them to efficiently monetise their artwork for the first time in new ways — not just in private sales, but reoccurring royalties in perpetuity on a blockchain.”

 Satellite runs through April 3 at the Twenty Twenty Six Gallery, 17 O’Brien Street. The exhibition is free.