At the start of December, we had the joy of hosting several events during this year's Art Basel. What follows is some history on the iconic art show, a recap of our weekend, and some lessons we learned along the way!
Art Basel History
Every year since 2002, Art Basel floods Miami Beach with art, collectors and enthusiasts from around the globe. The massive art show originally got its start in 1970, when three Swiss art professionals — Ernst Beyeler, a dealer and collector, and gallerists Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt decided to establish a rival show to Art Cologne [add link to article on this], a contemporary art fair that emerged in neighboring Germany in 1967.
The trio wanted to create an additional sales channel for contemporary art that would include art dealers offering twentieth-century works, not simply the gallery owners representing contemporary artists. In this way, Art Basel opened up a world of art commerce that targeted not only elite collectors but also beginner, or tyro, collectors.
In its inaugural year, Basel hosted 90 galleries from 10 different countries and attracted over 16,000 visitors. In 1972, New York Times critic Hilton Kramer called the event a “mammoth indoor ‘flea market’ of 20th-century art,” where one could find gallerists hanging their own stalls and artists mingling in the crowd.
The show only continued to grow in popularity and in 2002 Art Basel debuted its first outpost: Art Basel in America at Miami Beach, which opened to immediate success. The show launched a second offshoot, Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2013, which has since become Asia's premiere art fair.
Our Basel Recap
After a hiatus due to Covid, Art Basel returned to Miami Beach in 2021. Tech Hustle Culture teamed up with Black NFT Art, a media & community brand empowering Black people in the NFT space, to curate a weekend of community events. Our goal was to gather members of our extended family in fun, immersive, and creatively charged spaces.
We know how important it is for our community to be able to connect in ways that allow them to explore creativity inside and outside of professional contexts, in spaces where they can really bring their whole being, so we kicked off the weekend with a link up at Panther Cafe in the Wynnwood section of Miami.
Wynnwood is marked by its expansive and vibrant murals, good eats, and bustling community. It was love to catch up with the fam, including the good people at 40 Acres DAO , 21 Titles, Black Dave, Justin Harmond (Mari World’s manager), to name just a few of the dope people that came out to kick off our Basel weekend.
From there we made our way to link with the Roots Collective, a group of ambitious visionaries dedicated to the economic growth, social awareness and self-sufficiency of black & brown communities, for their 3rd Annual Our Basel event.
Our Basel was created to support local Miami community members. At a time when the city is flooded with tourists, Our Basel was launched to support the (local) arts and encourage people to participate in the Buy Black Art Movement.
This year, we had the honor of helping to introduce NFTs to the Our Basel programming. We were proud to help educate the community on NFTs and the opportunities for wealth creation that exist in the broader tech field, alongside of co-sponsors Disrupt Art & Black NFT Art. It was a spectacular night of art, food, games, and fire performances by King Hoodie, NFT musical artists Ibn Inglor and Heno.
We topped off the weekend with a blissful day on the sands of Miami Beach. Our beach meet up brought out the creative professionals and artists, including the 40acresDAO crew, rapper/artist Tino Daimyo from St. Louis, Elise Swopes, a self-taught photographer, graphic designer, and a top selling artist on SuperRare, Brittany Pierre, a serious street and film photographer based in Chicago, Illinois, and Marijuana Man, aka Kyrie Crenshaw, a digital artist who’s blending rasta with anime. There's nothing more grounding than the ocean waves, good company, and sun in December!
Since hosting our events, we’ve had some time to reflect and we came away from the experience with some musings. Below are some themes and lessons that emerged from our Basel weekend.
NFT Art Technology Needs & How to prepare for NFTs Display
Despite the buzz around NFTs, there were very few screens present at the Art Basel convention center. Events that did feature NFT displays at times restricted pieces that were intended to be immersive to a flat 2D experience. The art world was not entirely ready to meet the technology demands for displaying NFT Art.
NFT Art is as new for collectors and galleries as it is for manufacturers and that means that there aren’t many displays dedicated to exhibiting authentic digital art on the market. Supply chain shortages, met with the rising demand for displays have meant shortages for the Samsung TV Frame, and Meural Frame, and scarcity for products like Qonos, which initially sold out in 24 hours.
If you are in the market for an NFT display frame, we suggest considering your desired image format, image quality, ease of use, storage capacity, size, and extra features.
Digital frames designed to display NFTs are not the same as digital displays made for regular formats. What’s more, NFT displays vary in format type, with some displays designed for video-formats exclusively, versus NFT display devices that support various media formats. Audio for NFT displays also remains quite rare, and most frames are designed to provide a singularly visual experience.
One should also consider whether the NFT display allows for accessibility to mobile apps and WiFi connectivity to ensure you can change the images that appear on the screen. The frames from Infinite Objects, for instance, do not have this accessibility and instead come with a video print already there, which cannot be altered.
Full HD 4K resolution is preferred for high quality displays. Smaller frames allow for 1080 resolution.
Ease of Use
Typically, assembly of the frames is straightforward and relatively easy to achieve. To avoid problems with uploading images to frames, be sure to check the format requirements to ensure they match your smartphone specs.
As a rule, the frame should be proportional to the wall dimensions and room size. Placing the frame at eye level allows you to watch it comfortably while sitting or standing.
Some frames come with a single NFT pre-printed on them, while others have memory storage, like a cell phone. And like a cell phone, they run out of storage.
If you want to create a slideshow of a curated collection, we suggest a device with high storage capacity.
Some frames come with added features. The Samsung display, for example, is popular because it can be used as a TV and a digital frame simultaneously, which saves space and helps the price tag make sense.
If all else fails, TV displays are a popular and affordable option for NFTs. Just ensure that you have tested and confirmed proper display functionality before your event.
It’s Deeper than NFTs: Thoughts on Blockchain Education
If there's one thing hosting Our Basel taught us, it's that for every person who knows what an NFT is there are thousands of folks who don’t.
There’s a lot of hype around NFTs and the underlying blockchain technology, and yet the technology is not well understood.
This widespread lack of knowledge regarding the underlying history and functions of blockchain technology has led to behaviors in Web 3 that undermine the values of transparency and decentralization in which bitcoin and the blockchain were created. Focusing on NFTs is a great way to introduce people to the creative use cases for blockchain technology, but without dedicated conversations on how the underlying tech and systems work, it can be a disservice to our communities in the long term.
This education gap combined with the digital divide and the fact that this new technology is not accessible by any stretch of the imagination, and we have the conditions for yet another technological revolution that excludes communities that are historically marginalized in systems of capitalism and white hegemony.
This is why we created the Peoples’ Guide to Blockchain.
Adopting technology with a full and critical understanding renders us architects, not simply users. We're prioritizing education in technology because decentralizing any system begins with building applied knowledge and skills so as to eliminate reliance on centralized platforms and apps.
We were further inspired by the work of the Black Roots House, the Dream Defenders, and Black Men Build who illuminate for us the importance of community organizing for the fair and equitable applications of blockchain technology. We want to continue to enable more organizers to be a part of the conversations about the blockchain and have a voice in how this tech can actually serve the revolutionary aims it was created for.
Tech as a Tool, Not the Answer; Community is a Verb, Not a Noun
All in all, our Basel weekend was a continuation of the themes that arose from our NFT NYC meetup in November 2021. Themes of anchoring our creation in Web 3 to the IRL (in real life), analog world. Themes of connection, power, intersectionality. Themes of wellness and self care as community care. The weekend was a reminder that we did not need to wait on the emergence of blockchain technology to create economies of shared ownership, transparency and accountability. These values simply require commitment and action.
Tech, including blockchain technology, is a tool to help achieve a fair, equitable and abundant future. Creatively solving our social problems, however, requires that we are committed to values of interconnectedness, empathy, integrity, honesty, and discipline. No easy feat in the face of capitalism and imperialism. But the community organizers we had the privilege to work with during Art Basel were a testament to fact that community is rooted in action and together we will continue to build power, deepen equity, and cultivate leadership / leaders across our global network.
Interested in getting involved with our educational initiatives?
Join our Discord , where we host weekly community programming, workshops, and share resources with a distributed network of (seriously talented) creative professionals leading impact in their communities.
Article Written by Naomi Arroyo
Edited by Brittany Wallace, Naomi Arroyo
Photography by Brittany Johnson, Naomi Arroyo