As the LGBTQA+ community celebrates pride month, two queer artists, Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti introduce a new NFT project called “Let me check with the wife,” to be released on SuperRare NY Gallery from June 9 until June 15 and later will be live for auction from June 15-20. Through this NFT, the artists will be exploring queer marriages by reversing/ flipping the usual utility of NFT.
The utility of NFT is defined as the value or usefulness an NFT holds. Artists or creators must give an NFT a utility. This relates to the “Let me check with the wife” NFT project. The two artists explore the idea of moral obligations surrounding a wife, determined by a patriarchal, cis-hetero masculine society. Since the queer artists are two women in marriage, it challenges the existing institution of marriage for all.
The project’s name “let me check with the wife” itself is referred to masculinity and is often used among men in daily life conversations. In a way, it is used in an ironic sense to represent a marriage between two women. “[The title] takes a phrase coded with masculinity and makes it hilarious,“ says Ti.
About the duo artist
Ania Catherine and Dejha Ti are two famous Los Angeles-based queer artists widely known in the NFT community for their Privacy Collection which won Lumen Prize in 2021. They are conceptual artists who merge the concept of environments, performance, immersive art, and creative technology to create digital masterpieces using blockchain.
Ti has an extensive background in immersive art and human-computer interaction (HCI), and Catherine is a well-known choreographer, performance artist, and gender scholar at the London School of Economics. Together, they run an art house Operator and explore the possibilities within blockchain technology through NFTs.
The “Let me check with the wife” is a phenomenal concept that shows how technology can help individuals question social and moral obligations. In a society where every person is born with a certain role or given a certain role, the artists explore how defined roles in marriage work by exploring their own marriage.
As pride month celebrates the rainbow of sexualities and gender identities, this project takes a practical step that will eventually determine the future of queer marriages as a whole.
“Let me check with the wife” is set to be launched as part of the ICONS X SuperTrans series, which is an exhibition displaying works of various queer artists that speak loudly to create a safer space for all. The NFTs will be showcased physically in SuperRare Art Gallery under SuperRare’s SUPERQUEER event, which is a project curated by Nicole Ruggiero and Sam Clover and initiated by a trans artist Laurel Charleston. The event will continue for the whole month of June to empower new and emerging trans artists all over the world.
Exploring Queer Marriage through Catherine & Ti
The LGBTQA+ community around the world is slowly winning legal rights to queer marriage but still struggles to understand the true essence of it due to pre-determined roles. The usual mentality that a wife and husband are to enter into marriage creates a gap for trans and non-binary people to explore the diversities within their marriages.
Ania Catherin and Dejha Ti explore their queer marriage to initiate a debate for all queers around the world. In a video interview, the two artists expressed excitement by introducing their marriage certificate to the world.
Catherine says, “It’s such a historic and unique moment. Using our marriage as an empty container for us to both design our creative practices and our romantic relationship within this thing that we were never supposed to inhabit together historically.”
In other words, this marriage certificate is an NFT that acts as an empty container for the artists to explore the dynamics of their relationship.
Historically, the concept of two women in a marriage has never been explored because it was a serious crime. This lack of research and exploration motivated artists to initiate a debate through their marriage.
Marriage as an object of art
For centuries, marriage has always been defined as a moral obligation that a “man” and a “woman” should obey in order to be acceptable in society. For Catherine & Ti, marriage is quite different.
“It’s queering the structure of marriage because it was never designed to be a social and romantic contract between two women, it was a tool of oppression,” Ti says.
This NFT project sees marriage as a tool to explore art in itself. As Ti says, “The collector [of this NFT] isn’t going to be ‘buying our marriage,’ they’ll be buying the marriage as an object of art in an ironic way.”
Marriage certificate as dynamic NFT
For this NFT project, the queer artist presents their legal marriage certificate as an art piece that symbolically represents the systematic idea of marriage. Unlike other NFTs, this NFT is created differently that reverses the utility of NFT. In a way, it’s like a reverse of what a usual utility just like their marriage is the reverse of hetero marriage.
The NFT is a digital form of the marriage license with a QR code stamped on the physical paper that leads to a smart contract custom-designed by the artists.
“That QR code is an Etherscan link that goes to a secondary smart contract that we custom-built. We put the metadata in the SuperRare contract as well, so these two contracts are forever linked,” Ti elaborates.
In other words, the NFT isn’t just a simple picture of their marriage license; instead, it is a dynamic NFT that leads the NFT holder to another contract. Some parts of the license are censored due to privacy concerns.
The buyers can only see the NFT, but only the NFT holder can access the second contract once they purchase it through auction, to be held on June 12-20.
The second contract is “Marital Obligation” which involves the NFT holder in the couple’s marriage. The NFT is an on-chain transcription of a marriage license that can be changed based on the couple’s requirements. The NFT holder will play an active role in their marriage and also get to explore the dynamics of queer marriage, which can be a good reference for other trans people.
Ti explains the NFT’s concept: “We’ve set it up so that every year on our anniversary, which is July 19, the collector may be given some direction or request for anniversary gifts or something else. We might ask them not to go out on a Wednesday night, [reflecting] the non-romantic aspects of being married as well,” Ti says.
The couple has also added the possibility of making changes. According to the description on SuperRare, there will be one final obligation in case a divorce happens. After that, no anniversary gifts will be expected.
Flipping the NFT utility
The couple reverses the established rule of providing utility to NFTs through the artwork. For this NFT, the owner is deeply involved in some marital obligations and has the opportunity to understand what a relationship between two women looks like.
Ti shares that the duo wanted to explore something new with this NFT, she said, “We’re speaking to our dislike of the idea that artists have to provide utility with NFT artwork. It’s a hyperbolic flip of the expectation of utility with NFTs.”
“You can do something for us because you have our work,” Catherine adds to it.
In a way, it brings out the possibility of alternating the utility of NFTs and gives creators a push to explore different aspects of non-fungible tokens, especially the queer creators. Just like how LGBTQA+ is the name of bringing gender identity change into the society, the queer artists can also use NFTs to represent themselves by breaking stereotypes.
It also changes the way NFT utility works so that the artist can decide how they can use this technology to interact with their fans or how they can use it to influence the world as a whole.
All in all, it is a new concept that challenges technology and society together through NFTs.
How can this project influence the LGBTQA+ community?
Queer artists have a charm of their own that they express through a blend of fantasy and realism drawings and artwork. Catherine believes Fantasy has been a common genre that fully represented the sentiments of a queer artist.
She also adds, “Aesthetically, you see a lot of distant lands, a feeling of going to more open, more colorful places to exist as a queer person. Queer icons […] used to have to be loud and bold and out there and flamboyant. Now, I wonder if we need that, or if we need to see that we can just exist normally and have peace in our daily lives.”
In a way, through this NFT project, Catherine & Ti want to normalize queer relationships, gender dynamics, and sexualities as part of the normal world. Now that LGBTQA+ is finally being recognized, it is important to make it conventional. For them, being queer shouldn’t be referred to as a fantasy concept, instead, it should be brought to more practical and everyday life.
SuperRare introduces SuperQueer to empower queer creators
Other than Catherine & Ti, many other artists are dropping their collections and projects this pride month. SuperRare marketplace posted about an event on June 1, 2022, which is centered around queer artworks curated by Laurel Charleston.
SuperRare is working with various artists to showcase their artwork on the platform and empower them as a representative of the LGBTQA+ community. It will hold an exhibition in the SuperRare Art Gallery, virtually and physically to display legendary works of creators.
There will be two types of events: SuperTrans and ICONS x SuperTrans. SuperTrans began on June 3 featuring revolutionary works from 11 transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming artists while ICONS x SuperTrans will feature queer artists in blockchain starting from June 9 until June 15.
Some of the artists include Cymoonv, Harriet Davey, Jason Ebeyer, Foodmasku, Holladay Saltz, Taurrvs, Kate the Cursed, Brian Vu, Cyshimi, and many more. Each artist will exhibit a unique piece of artwork that will completely revolutionize digital art.
To celebrate and introduce some of the artworks, SuperRare is holding a Twitter Spaces this Thursday at 8 AM PT/11 AM ET. If you’re interested, don’t miss out on the interesting session hosted by @trshboyoli and @vinnythesnail on @SuperRare.
The NFT project introduced by Catherine & Ti is truly an inspirational concept that will completely influence the way people think about queer relationships. It not only shows the infinite possibilities within NFT art but also opens doors for people to talk about it and share their feelings.
“Let me check with the wife” challenges masculinity, established roles, gender dynamics, queer marriages, and non-binary relationships. It is like a rebellion against art, creativity, and society.
As Catherine says, “The idea of being playful and subversive inside of this container that everyone associates with traditional values is really exciting, and feels like a creative act itself.”