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This Startup Harnesses the Power of NFTs for Art Provenance, Authentication and Archiving

13 Jun 2022

 

With the notable exception of a handful of names like Tyler Hobbs, or Dmitri Cherniak, many people will agree that the NFT art space suffers from a notable lack of actual artists. While nobody has a monopoly on the definition of what is admissible as art, one cannot avoid the nagging feeling that a CryptoPunk lacks the same sort of aesthetic and cultural heft that a Warhol possesses.

Thankfully that is changing as more traditional artists, renowned galleries and auction houses spread greater awareness about crypto and NFTs. One woman in particular is making a push to represent more Asian artists in the space. Kavita Raha is one of Singapore’s best-known art entrepreneurs. An avid art collector herself, she has worked closely with major global auction houses, government institutions, galleries, private collectors, and contemporary master artists in Asia and Europe. 

Today, her company, ARTPODIUM, has become an internationally recognised platform, with a 17 year track record of having successfully organised and curated art exhibitions. In 2022, Raha announced the launch of a new platform, Artbien, with the goal of showcasing and promoting the works of upcoming contemporary artists within Asia. In 2021, Artbien was awarded a ZILHive ecosystem grant, The ZILHive team sat down with her to find out more about her story, and her plans for the future of Asian art.

 

Tell us more about yourself and ARTPODIUM. How did you get interested in art management?

I came from a family of avid art collectors, so I grew up learning to appreciate art.  Since 2004, I’ve spent over a decade hosting events in Singapore & India. During that time, I spent a lot of time working closely with artists, collectors, and galleries in Asia. Seeing the power of art to open doors and connect people, eventually led me to set up ARTPODIUM in 2019. It is an online community of art lovers, critics, collectors, galleries, artists and enthusiasts. 

How did you come up with this idea to bring the art community together using the blockchain? What made you decide to use blockchain technology for art provenance, authentication & archiving?

Launching ARTPODIUM in 2019, we never expected just how badly the pandemic would impact us. Amidst the dearth of physical events and travel, many artists reached out to me with the idea of hosting virtual art fairs because they were struggling to make ends meet. That’s where I first saw the tremendous potential for digital spaces and events to transform art.

It was at one of those virtual art events that I ran into Mervin Ho from Zilliqa. We discussed the potential applications of blockchain to the art world, like how NFTs were creating new revenue streams for artists in a digital age. That’s how the idea for Artbien was born. I honed in on trying to solve the authentication problem, particularly since fraud and forgeries are a massive problem in this segment of the art market. The demand for provenance is high particularly for more expensive works by famous artists which are highly valued. Bockchain can help to simplifying the process of verifying the provenance of an artwork as it changes hands in the secondary markets.

My vision for Artbien is to create a platform for the tokenization of art with NFTs as their digital twins. Artbien aims to bridge the digital and physical art worlds by making it easy for artists creating physical art to recreate that art on a digital platform where it can be easily displayed and monetized in virtual experiences and galleries. We are 60% done with the groundwork, and hope to launch towards the end of 2022. 

Tell us more about your ZILHive Grants experience. How was the process of applying and getting the funding? 

It was a great experience all around. I didn’t experience any hiccups, and met with some great minds at ZILHive who were always there to help. We received the grant in 2 halves: one part for the backend development of the platform, and the other for more commercial, user-facing parts of the business. Today, we have a team of five, plus two co-founders. 

What’s in the roadmap for Artbien, and what can we expect to see in the weeks and months to come?

We’re getting ready to launch by the end of 2022, and are already starting to on-board artists from our network. It will be made free to Singapore artists, and will provide budding creatives with an international platform of collectors, museums and other stakeholders like auction houses and create a more accessible art scene to people globally. 

When our platform gains more traction, we will also start to explore growing our presence in the metaverse.

To learn more about ZILHive Grants, visit https://zilhive.org/grants.