Breaking the bank: When crypto and art collide
German artist Reuven Schockner talks about the relationship between cryptocurrencies and art
Reuven Schockner is an artist from Germany with a background in graffiti art. He has moved into fine arts throughout the years and currently is focusing on the rise of crypto and the fall of fiat. He shares his thoughts on the relationship between money and art and how crypto has inspired his works.
How significant is the concept of money to your artworks?
Very significant – it´s the foundation of what I do; the material I use, and the intention behind my paintings. Money was a significant factor for human civilization to grow and prosper. We see today that it failed in many ways; this has led to an opportunity to rethink and change. We (humans) seem to only change after having failed before – it´s painful but it´s necessary. I find that to be a very, very interesting concept for my artworks.
What is so alluring about cryptocurrencies as a theme? How have you explored them in your art?
It´s the next chapter for a prosperous global society – cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them are the tool to achieve this. After the last exhibition of my art at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit I got the chance to listen to some of the leading thinkers in that field, which piqued my curiosity. That interest has materialised in my artwork.
In the last issue of Block we wrote about an AI project that was producing its own artworks based on the works of artist Mark Mallia – does this worry or inspire you?
It´s provocative and Mark, as an established artist pushes himself and his ideas further and further. Of course, I find myself inspired by his choice of creative freedom.
What do you think about projects like OpenBazaar that are using cryptocurrencies to create the ability to specify prices in fiat, allowing pseudo-anonymous trading without censorship and without the reliance on middle men like galleries and institutions?
There is no censorship in art. There is only controversy. So I think the project you mentioned is not as relevant for art as it is for the concept of decentralisation. The artist has a choice and that is what counts.
There has always been a long and complicated relationship between money and art – how do they influence each other?
I find it rather uncomplicated. People buy art and rich people buy more art. When art becomes solely a commodity rather than a collectible it will become unappealing to the idea of art. I still prefer to sell a painting as opposed to keeping it. My agenda is geared towards moving and not standing still.
Warhol and Banksy have been key figures in the art world when it comes to conversations on the perceived value of money and the way it shapes society– do you see any parallels between their work and your own?
You are right, as both artists are fundamental ambassadors of popular art within their zeitgeist. There is also a huge difference. Warhol was mainly an artist for the bohemian rich, while Banksy started as a graffiti artist, so Banksy´s art was intentionally for freedom.
Are there any current artists out there at the moment who have caught your eye?
Of course. Too many to mention, but you definitely should check out Revok, Joakim Ojanen, Lisa Ericson, Tom Badley, Retna and so on…
Does graffiti still play a big role in your artwork?
Graffiti is typography. Sometimes rather cryptic to read but it’s readable. In my opinion it’s a perfect tool to combine artistic freedom with a message. It’s my genre – forever.
There’s a sense of irony about creating value out of destruction (take Banksy’s shredded artwork doubling in value). You often destruct money to create your artworks – does the resulting conversation this provokes have more value than the physical piece itself?
Of course. Banksy shredded his artwork to destroy it and not to raise its value. My intention is the same but I don’t stop there. I use my money as a tool to tell my story. The value of money is only found in believing in the story of money. Make your choice.
What upcoming projects do you have in the pipeline?
Cryptoart is creating its own growing genre, so I am fascinated by the huge interest from so many countries. My crypto paintings will also soon be accompanied by sculptures I am currently working on.
Read more articles like this in the digital edition of Block magazine.
Malta AI & Blockchain Summit is a bi-annual expo covering topics relating to the global sectors for blockchain, AI, Big Data, IoT, and Quantum technologies. The event includes conferences hosted by globally renowned speakers, workshops for industry learning and discussion, an exhibition space accommodating more than 400 brands and a number of networking events.