Frida Kahlo’s painting burned and ‘went to the metaverse’
In his black jacket, tight on his shoulders and painted with touches of color, the Mexican art collector Martin Mobarak throws a party in Miami, guests smile by the pool, about to watch a Frida Kahlo paint burn.
The crowd looks straight at Mobarak and it is not a sight like those seen in the past, where attention-seeking acrobats disfigure this or that masterpiece of art. Our anti-hero lives in a different timeline than the one that considers Frida one of the most intense artists of the 20th century, he lives in the one where the Mexican artist makes works in the metaverse, and that’s where Mobarak wants to take the paint Fantasmones Siniestrothat the meta-collector claims to have bought in 2015 from the New York gallery Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art, which however claims to have never heard of him, as Vice reports.
In an aperitif atmosphere with plastic cups, Martin Mobarak takes the work out of a black box, removes the fabric that protects it and begins to unscrew the frame with a screwdriver. After completing the DIY job, the meta carpenter proudly displays the work Frida Kahlo created in 1944 for Venezuelan art critic Juan Rohl, later exhibited in New York and first sold in 2004 to the Foundation Vergel then to a private collector in 2013.
This is where the meta bartender places the artwork in a giant Martini glass, filled with ice and fuel (not even an olive, come on!). The flames start to burn Fantasmones Siniestro, while in the background to make everything more surreal, the volume of Cielito Lindo (Ay, Ay, Ay, canta y no llores) is increased. The cup is then transformed into an altar, on which a work of art is sacrificed in the name of the future, the ritual of “the alchemist of art, who turns physical art into digital gold”, as the meta called himself. -shaman, is finished.
The ritual is nothing more than a cascade of Mobarak to present its Frida.NFT blockchain project, which plans to make 10,000 digital NFT copies of the artwork, each worth 3 ETH, or about $4,000, for a total figure of $40 million, not very meta, very neoclassical. However, part of the proceeds will go to child welfare associations, an affirmation that does not hide doubts about the interest of the project.
The collector claims not to have destroyed the work but to have “relegated it to the metaverse”, for having thus introduced Frida’s work into a dimension that would be “This community initiative has the vision of introducing Frida’s work into the metaverse and to leverage its powerful likeness to bring together a community of art collectors, creators and enthusiasts with the aim of merging the traditional art world with the growing potential of the digital art world and ‘immortalize the history of the humanities.’ A concept that did not convince insiders in the first place, who doubted the provenance of the work, sending the case to the National Institute of Fine Arts and Literature of Mexico, which has opened an investigation in recent days.
In Mexico, in fact, the destruction of an artistic monument constitutes a crime by law, and then there is the doubt as to the provenance of the work (today a cryptographic work) authenticated by the dealer Andres Siegel the July 30, 2022, the day of the ceremony.
It is therefore no longer a coincidence that the performance took place in Miami and not in Mexico, a major entrepreneurial project perhaps, which cast a shadow over the management of the artistic heritage held by large investors outside the institutions.
Who knows if Phantasmones Siniestros is really in the metaverse, for now it is certain that we have lost a page from the diary of the story of Frida Kahlo, in which a giant weight, a broom, a duck, a bird and spectral creatures represented the whole complexity and magic of one of the greatest artists in the history of art.