Denmark has a new public sculpture. You just have to print it yourself
As part of its core mission to support the production and appreciation of new and experimental art practices, the Museum of Contemporary Art has acquired a digital 3D sculpture. The Wrestlers, a so-called non-fungible token (NFT) created by Danish artist Ditte Ejlerskov, is now part of the museum’s permanent collection. Virtual museumgoers can explore The Wrestlers in the museum’s online exhibition. The entrance to the The Wrestlers is below.
The acquisition launches the Museum of Contemporary Art’s research project and commission series Virtual Sculptures. Each year, the museum will invite an artist to create a new 3D work, which will be acquired for the permanent collection and posted online for free download.
Ejlerskov’s The Wrestlers is included in the museum’s collection and is freely available online. All are welcome to download, print, mold, animate, rework, or reshape the sculpture. Like everything else in the virtual world, the work will have a life of its own after it is shared. But an NFT is the artist’s unique signature and the buyer’s proof of ownership—a digital bill of sale, if you will, or a fingerprint.
Standing on the shoulders of Art History
Ejlerskov’s 3D sculpture reinterprets a famous classical sculpture, The Wrestlers, at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Instead of two male wrestlers, the new version depicts two female wrestlers frozen in position.
The work builds on a millennia-old history, in which the sculptural representation of the two classical wrestlers has been repeatedly copied and modified. A marble copy of a lost Greek bronze original, the sculpture at the Uffizi is one of the best-known works in the history of Western art. But the name of the original artist remains unknown. Acquiring Ejlerskov’s work as an NFT throws the whole history of ownership and reproduction into perspective.
Taking back control
Ejlerskov created her version of The Wrestlers while preparing to give birth to her second child, representing the inner struggle between adrenaline and oxytocin, two hormones associated with the conflicting emotions of fear and love. The Wrestlers is the mental image that helped her find the peace of mind necessary to take back control of her body when she was in extreme pain.
“In collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art, we developed the idea of a globally available sculpture. I think it’s a lovely thought that my personal meditation instrument – if you can call the sculpture that – is now available to everyone. It can sit on your kitchen table next to your morning coffee, on your nightstand or in your garden. Perhaps the sculpture can make you think about the forces that drive or even haunt you”, Ditte Ejlerskov says.
Non-fungible tokens are a new technology enabling the establishment of unambiguous ownership of digital objects and files. The technology has undergone extremely rapid development and has been met with enormous interest, but also criticism, in large part because of its significant impact on climate. Creating NFTs—or “minting” in NFT parlance—with the blockchain technology known as “proof of work” can involve massive greenhouse gas emissions. The Wrestlers, for its part, is minted using a new blockchain, Flow, which runs on another more carbon-friendly technology, “proof of stake.”