White Male Artist aka Cassils
White Male Artist aka Cassils
$HT Coin, 2021
Video: $HT Coin Cans
Duration: 37:19 min
Duration: 2:25 min
In May 1961, artist Piero Manzoni canned his shit for sale. Called Artist’s Shit (Italian: Merda d’artista), the tins were originally priced at their weight in gold ($37). In August 2016, one tin sold for a new record of €275,000 ($330,000+) at an art auction in Milan.
60 years later, Cassils canned their shit in the form of an NFT. Called $HT Coin, this durational performance took place from July 1 - 30, 2021. Each day, Cassils ate a series of meals based on the diets of the most financially successful contemporary (white male) artists. Did the $HT they produce have the same value? $HT Coin parasitically mutates Manzoni’s critique onto the blockchain. Allocating assets in a Duchampian manner, Cassils puts the Data into Dado. The collection of tins was auctioned at a starting price of 30 grams of gold.
Photo: Robin Black. Animation: Nick Tamburri
Who is White Male Artist?
On July 1, 2021, we announced the “Greatest and Most Ambitious NFT Performance of ALL Time” called $HT Coin. The project was launched under the pseudonym “White Male Artist” in an effort to bring gender and racial inequality into focus within the greater arts and crypto community.
We are pleased to unveil the artist’s true identity and share the critique at the heart of the project. $HT Coin is the brainchild of Cassils, a Guggenheim Award-winning, transgender, Canadian-American performance artist. Cassils’ decision to initially announce the project with the nom de plume “White Male Artist” fits into a long history of pseudonyms employed by artists critiquing a centuries old, outdated art market in which value is determined by the identity of the creator rather than the merit of the work. $HT Coin was released into an art market in which only 2% of the top grossing contemporary artists were not cisgender men and seeks to shed light on this disparity.
White Male Artist is a persona Cassils has performed, moonlighting as a Trojan horse and circulating seamlessly with the crypto bros. Investors speculated: Is WMA Banksy? Beeple? Beeple’s Wife? What happens to the sales of these NFTs once it is known that Cassils was assigned female at birth and they have to contend with the sexism, misogyny, and transphobia that comes from rupturing cisgender norms as a gnder non conforming person? As an exercise in behavioral finance, this work prompts: Will the value of Cassils’ work go up or down? You decide.
Cassils is a Canadian-American artist, born in Toronto and based in Los Angeles.
Cassils is a transgender artist who makes their own body the material and protagonist of their performances. Cassils's art contemplates the history(s) of LGBTQI+ violence, representation, struggle and survival. For Cassils, performance is a form of social sculpture: Drawing from the idea that bodies are formed in relation to forces of power and social expectations, Cassils’s work investigates historical contexts to examine the present moment.
Cassils has had recent solo exhibitions at HOME Manchester (UK), Station Museum of Contemporary Art (US), Perth Institute for Contemporary Arts (AU), Ronald Feldman Fine Arts (US), Institute for Contemporary Art (AU), Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts (US), School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (US), Bemis Center (US) & MU Eindhoven (NL).