Sarah Meyohas, a Wharton School of Business graduate, who is currently finishing up her MFA in Photography at Yale University, is launching her own digital currency, which she christened BitchCoin.
“If you’re a woman who is taking a stake in your future and aggressive, you’re a bitch,” considers Meyohas.
BitchCoin represents a claim on a tangible asset, in this particular case, the artist’s photographic prints. One digital coin is supposed to be equal to 25 square inches of print. Each time Meyohas creates a BitchCoin, she will place a print aside in bank vault.
BitchCoin will be “mined” inside of Where, a gallery/shipping storage in Brooklyn. Meyohas will temporarily live in the gallery and produce her work, while being streamed live via a webcam. BitchCoin purchasers will receive a certificate with key number encryption allowing access to an account on a free BitchCoin software program in which BitchCoins can be sent and received. The primary BitchCoins will sell for $100 each, and that money goes to Meyohas.
On Sunday, February 15, at 8 p.m., Meyohas will be launching BitchCoin at the Trinity Place Bar, a bar in a bank at 115 Broadway, in the Financial District of Manhattan. At its original proposal, BitchCoin will back the edition of a photograph, supremely well titled Speculation. Afterwards, the exchange rate will fluctuate considering the demand for BitchCoin and the value of Meyohas’ artwork in the market.
Meyohas considers that the project is about “the role of value in reproducible objects like the photograph” and about the value of money. Since the end of the gold standard, regular money is just pieces of paper with pictures, backed by nothing and Meyohas describes BitchCoin as a digital currency backed by a real asset, the art, though that art is just pieces of paper with pictures.
“For a long time, the art world wouldn’t seriously collect photographs because they seemed too reproducible. It was only once printed and editioned, made materially scarce, that they could be valued. There is something about the value of money which you can print endless copies of that parallels the photographic print.”
The artist says a BitchCoin is exchangeable not for a specific photo, but for any of her “editioned, unframed archival chromogenic photographs.”
“Visual artists generally don’t receive royalties like musicians or writers,” Meyohas explains on the BitchCoin website. “An artist’s work might fluctuate wildly on the market, changing hands between collectors several times without any permission of, or compensation to, the artist. BitchCoin gives Sarah Meyohas a controlling stake in the supply, demand, and price of her own work.”
Bitcoin has captured the imagination of a lot of people, from technology experts to economists to drug dealers. Now, artists endorse the idea; and Sarah Meyohas is trying to use it to fund her work and to raise some new questions about what makes both money and art precious.