by Brendan Fernandes
MINt Souvenir

About Souvenir

We are not moving our lives into the digital space any more than we moved our lives into the tactile space with the advent of woodblock printing in the 9th century. The digital is not infinite or transcendent, but maybe we can use it to create systems in our material world that are. It is our duty not to shy away from new spaces, but to transform them into new possibilities; something that reflects our own visions.

In 2010 Brendan Fernandes began to investigate ideas of “authenticity” explored through the dissemination of Western notions of an exotic Africa through the symbolic economy of "African" masks. These masks were removed from their place of origin and displayed in the collections of museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art. They lost their specificity and cultural identity as they became commodifiable objects, bought and sold in places like Canal Street in New York City.

In traditional West African masquerade when the performer puts on the mask, it becomes a bridge between the human and spiritual realms. The work examines the  authenticity of these objects in the context of Western museums where they have been placed at rest and serve as exotified objects as opposed to serving their original aforementioned spiritual purpose.

In Fernandes’ genesis NFT project he is coming back to this work and thinking through the mask as an object that is still in flux and that lives within a cryptographic and digital space.  Conceptually in this new work the masks now take on an alternate form of existence as we re-imbue them with the ability to morph and change in both physical form as well as economic value. The piece is constantly in a state of becoming and in that it can be seen as a take away or a souvenir. These NFT masks take inspiration from three specific masks housed in the Metropolitan Museum's African collection. The artist has scanned different materials: Gold, Textiles, Wood and Shells to create layers that will become the foundation of these “new” masks.

“Moving Forward: The Dancer Fund”

Part of the reason Brendan Fernandes was so interested in doing an NFT project was because of the ethos of community and mutual support that he saw in the crypto space. As such, he knew that when he did his genesis project, he would build in 10% of revenue to go to a fund that could increase in size each time he did a project. “Moving Forward: The Dancer Fund” aims to support and create solidarity through the spirit of collaboration, generosity and kindness to generate and provide for a greater dance community! In his work Fernandes has created strong bonds and relationships of support with many emerging dancers, many of whom are undervalued and underpaid. Much of Fernandes’ work focuses around how we value labor. Fernandes wants to be a force for change in the space of professional dance through employing fair compensation in his own work but also realizes that there are many who are not incentivized to seek more equitable forms of compensation and support.

Dancing is hard on the body of even the most privileged dancers, but based on the practices of low pay and too many hours of work, dancers often incur huge bills due to injury or sickness. Furthermore the toll of a dancer's career is a physical one but also a mental one but oftentimes, dancers have to chose rent and food over therapy so mental health is not seen as a priority.  The fund will distribute discretionary grants to support the following:

- Bringing dancers from developing countries to take place in workshops and residencies. Many want to train at schools outside of their home lands but can not because of financial disparity.

- Providing supplemental income on important works where artists are not being paid enough out of the budget.

- Healthcare related bills (both physical and mental health).  This isn’t a one-time contribution of a fund, this will become a recurring resource of support to dancers, an ongoing  system in itself that benefits the community. Every time Fernandes sells a piece, a % revenue will go towards the fund and he welcomes other dancers, artists who support or participate in dance and those who just align with the the Dancer Fund’s mission to do the same!

Drop Details

The artist has scanned different materials: Gold, Textiles, Wood and Shells to create layers that will become the foundation of these “new” masks.  The title “Souvenir” speaks to the transformative and continuous way that the masks are generated to be unique and individual but acknowledges the idea of them as takeaways.   The masks themselves become a new form of economy, a new form of thinking about what they are and where they come from. They are not placed in one specific space, location or culture but are hybrid and ever-changing. The work further acknowledges the artist’s own hybrid identity as a Kenyan, Indian, Canadian and American. This work aims to create a collective acknowledgement of change as displacement, but in shared histories of marginalized identity, we can recontextualize this displacement and reclaim it as empowerment.

1000 Unique Masks
3 Mask Styles
16 Mask Materials
17 Shell Types
Carbon Neutral Project

About Brendan

Brendan Fernandes (b. 1979, Nairobi, Kenya) is an internationally recognized Canadian artist working at the intersection of dance and visual arts. Currently based out of Chicago, Brendan’s projects address issues of race, queer culture, migration, protest and other forms of collective movement. Always looking to create new spaces and new forms of agency, Brendan’s projects take on hybrid forms: part Ballet, part queer dance hall, part political protest...always rooted in collaboration and fostering solidarity. Brendan is a graduate of the Whitney Independent Study Program (2007) and a recipient of a Robert Rauschenberg Fellowship (2014). In 2010, he was shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award, and is the recipient of a prestigious 2017 Canada Council New Chapters grant.

Brendan is also the recipient of the Artadia Award (2019), a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship (2020) and a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant (2019). His projects have shown at the 2019 Whitney Biennial (New York); the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York); the Museum of Modern Art (New York); The Getty Museum (Los Angeles); the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); MAC (Montreal); among a great many others. He is currently Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in the department of Art Theory and Practice and represented by Monique Meloche Gallery in Chicago.

Rules For Submission
Please only submit one piece per artist.
Submissions must be owned by the artist.
Submissions must currently be minted and for sale.
Art from any blockchain will be accepted.

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