ARTNEWS: A New Cryptocurrency Enters the Art Market: BitchCoin
By Hannah Ghorashi FEB. 18, 2015
Artist Sarah Meyohas launched her own personal cryptocurrency on Sunday night in the Financial District at Trinity Place, a bar located across from the birthplace of the Occupy movement, Zuccotti Park. Called BitchCoin, perhaps a feminist play on the name of the most famous cryptocurrency of them all, the currency is the subject of an exhibition on prediction at Where, a think tank and exhibition space based out of a shipping container in Brooklyn.
The currency is backed by Meyohas’s photography, at a fixed exchange rate of 1 BitchCoin to 25 square inches of photographic print. Under the heading “Why would I buy BitchCoin?” on BitchCoin’s website, Meyohas explains: “BitchCoin allows art collectors to invest directly in Sarah Meyohas as a value producer rather than investing in the artwork itself. For investors, BitchCoin is like any currency tradable on the open market. It’s a bet on Sarah Meyohas with no expiration.”
For every new release of BitchCoin, Meyohas, an undergraduate alumna of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and a current MFA candidate at Yale, will set aside an unframed archival chromogenic photographic print in a HSBC bank vault. Investors can exchange BitchCoins for any of Sarah Meyohas’s unframed archival chromogenic photographs at any time. At the launch, 200 BitchCoins were sold to back a print of a work titled Speculation at a fixed rate of $100 per BitchCoin, though the value will hereafter float based on the art market and the relative value of Meyohas’s work. Ultimately, she plans for BitchCoin to be available on a currency exchange for conversion into other global coinages.
BitchCoin is, at its core, an art project, but its implications rebel against the starving artist trope. “As soon as an artist sells a piece, they are relinquishing their financial claim on that work,” Meyohas told ARTnews in an email. “With BitchCoin, it is quite the opposite. I can invest! BitchCoin gives me a level of control over future value production that most artists without their own currency don’t have access to.”
Currency is a theme that runs through Meyohas’s entire work, which includes pieces with titles like Stock Performance, Celestial Gold, and Gold Glitched. “My interest in gold and currency comes from a deeper question about the conception of value,” she said. “Becoming an artist was a choice that I made, against the natural progression of my life. It had become a necessity.”