The Currency is a collection of 10,000 NFTs which correspond to 10,000 unique physical artworks by Damien Hirst, with the NFTs containing high resolution images of the front and back of each of the 10,000 artworks. The physical works, which are stored in a secure vault in the UK, are now brought to life through their launch on Palm, a new environmentally friendly NFT ecosystem connected to Ethereum. Palm is 99% more energy efficient than Ethereum or Bitcoin.
The physical artworks were created by hand in 2016 using enamel paint on handmade paper. Each artwork is numbered, titled, stamped, and signed by the artist on the back. Additional authenticity features on the artwork paper include a watermark, a microdot and a hologram containing a portrait of the artist. On each artwork, no colour is repeated twice. The colour of some spots on a particular artwork may appear to be similar, but they will actually be different shades. The titles are generated from machine learning being applied to some of the artist’s favourite song lyrics.
The application period starts on 14 July 2021 at 3pm BST and lasts for one week. Successful applicants will be notified in the week after the application period closes. Each NFT is $2,000 and payment can be made using credit or debit cards as well as the following cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), USD Coin (USDC) and Dai (DAI).
The NFTs will be distributed from 29th July 2021. No one will receive a physical artwork at the outset. Two months after the NFTs are allocated, collectors will be presented with a choice: to keep the NFT or exchange it for the physical artwork. They will have one year, until 3pm BST on 27th July 2022 to decide to keep either the digital NFT or the physical artwork. If they have not exchanged their NFT in that period, the physical artwork will be destroyed. Similarly, if they have exchanged it in that period, the NFT will be destroyed. There will be an exhibition of the ‘burned’ artworks (i.e. those relating to NFTs that have not been redeemed) before they are ultimately destroyed.
When Damien Hirst heard about NFTs three years ago, he decided to bridge the gap between the physical art world and the world of NFTs. Damien Hirst views The Currency as not just constituting individual works of art on paper and as NFTs but also the whole project as a work of art in which people participate by buying, holding and selling the artworks. The Currency challenges the concept of value through money and art. An experiment in belief, every participant is confronted with their perception of value, and how it influences their decision. The Currency tests the boundaries of the digital and physical world and our role in both. Ultimately, the collector decides how to use their art/currency. The limited time of the exchange period ensures that even doing nothing is doing something.
Damien Hirst said:
“The whole project is an artwork, and anyone who buys The Currency will participate in this work, it’s not just about owning it. It is the most exciting project I have ever worked on by far.”