"Buildings You Must See before You Die" is a flashy title of a series of photographs. Coming from an artist with a background in architecture, the title referring to those "1001 things to see" or "100 places to visit" books does not, however, show us what we expect to see: buildings. The main characters of the photos are not there. Instead, there is a white void where the monuments should sit. As observers who had switched into beautiful buildings seeing mode, we now have to create those images inside our heads. More than our eyes, the artist Jose Dávila is evoking our minds, memories, and imagination.
Jose Dávila has been working with creating silhouettes out of photographs at least since 2008. The Guadalajara-born artist cuts out the subject matter of the well-known images, leaving blank spaces and taking away details and contexts that are most familiar to us. He makes powerful use of negative space: the lack of elements is not less, but more, since their absence raises discussions around collective memory and production of history.
In "A Brief Story of Sculpture" the first-ever NFT by Jose Dávila done for the occasion of MACBA's fundraising project on Artpool, he does it again. Only this time, the cutouts makes use of the possibilities the digital space provides. In his new work, dozens of images of celebrated sculptures such as Nefertiti Bust, Anish Kapoor's The Bean, Michelangelo's David, and Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty appear and disappear in the blink of an eye. Hung on the wall, the framed photographs gain and lose their subjects in a dynamic and entertaining artwork that at the same time praises the history of art and architecture and questions which kind of history we are talking about.
This is one out of two NFT artworks donated by the artist for the fundraising project of MACBA - Museo de Arte Contemporánea de Buenos Aires on Artpool, the first platform dedicated to using NFTs as a tool to fund global art projects. The money raised with the sales launched on December 21 will finance a solo exhibition by Davila, one of the world's most known Mexican artists in 2022 when MACBA will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
"NFT Duchamp and Monalisa" is the second NFT by Dávila created specifically for this project. The work depicts a photograph of Marcel Duchamp, who is in front of his "Bicycle Wheel" readymade. Duchamp is standing next to a photo reproduction of Monalisa's painting. In the black and white NFT photography both main characters, Duchamp and Monalisa, are forever disappearing and reappearing like a game of hide and seek. Their silhouettes remind us of art history and criticize it: him as the father of contemporary art and her as the most famous painting in the world. However, the overexploited Gioconda's image has also lost her aura as said by Walter Benjamin in "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". In the book published in 1935, the philosopher and cultural critic argued technological developments permitted works of art to be reproduced that alters the masses' experience of art.
Therefore, in his piece, Dávila is brilliantly implying the avant-garde book and theory that left a mark in art history. Moreover, by doing it as digital artwork, the artist is also referring to today's technological developments of NFTs and how they are revolutionizing art history.
The 47-year-old artist is internationally acclaimed for his gravity-based sculptures that gather very heavy materials such as stone and delicate ones like glass held together by ratchet straps. The counter-balances heavy and light, positive and negative, black and white, are consistent in his work as form and concept. Because he didn't go to art school, he was self-taught in the sense of art history, and living in Guadalajara he got to know it through books. Nowadays, in his hands, the book paper stops being just a vehicle to carry an image and becomes an object in itself. In this case, a digital installation full of emptiness.
The sale will start on December 21 and will run exclusively on www.artpool.xyz for a month.