CryptoPunks Community Rejects 'Woke' Art, Yuga Labs Scraps New NFTs

CryptoPunks Community Rejects 'Woke' Art, Yuga Labs Scraps New NFTs

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Yuga Labs is reversing course on its new CryptoPunks collaboration following significant backlash from the community over allegations of the collection being excessively 'woke.’

The Punk in Residence Program

The Punk in Residence program was created to foster on-chain collaborations and stimulate creative experimentation within the NFT space. Yuga Labs selected artist Nina Chanel Abney to spearhead this initiative, resulting in the unveiling of her “Super Punk World” collection. This launch, which included an opening event at The School at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, showcased the new NFTs on Monday.

Abney’s Artistic Vision

Nina Chanel Abney's collection integrates her distinct style, reinterpreting iconic CryptoPunk traits through her unique lens. 

Commenting on the collaboration, Abney stated, 

"CryptoPunks are an iconic, pioneering project that has played a crucial role in the creation of the digital collectible space. By collaborating with them, I saw an opportunity to be at the center of a unique intersection of art, technology, and culture."

The 500-piece collection consists of hand-selected avatars inspired by both CryptoPunks and Abney’s previous works. 

Addressing Implicit Biases Through NFT

Abney’s avatars, characterized by colorful backgrounds and hybridized figures, aim to challenge societal norms and implicit biases. They reflect on the disparities in the secondary market values of digital avatars based on gender and skin tone.

Nathalie Stone, General Manager and Brand Lead of CryptoPunks, explained the intent behind the collection, saying, 

“We're trying to bring CryptoPunks to the masses here, in a way, but also have them understand why digital ownership matters.”

Community Reaction and Criticism

Despite the innovative and progressive intentions behind the collection, the response from the CryptoPunks community was largely negative. Critics called the artwork excessively 'woke' and not fit for the established CryptoPunks brand. 

There was also discontent regarding the perceived dilution of the original CryptoPunks collection, with some collectors expressing frustration over what they saw as an expansion of a highly valued "blue chip" Ethereum NFT set.

Yuga Labs’ Response

In light of the backlash, Yuga Labs decided to halt its artist residency program to focus on preserving the original essence of the CryptoPunks collection. 

Early Monday evening, Yuga Labs CEO Greg “Garga” Solano tweeted, 

“Yuga will no longer touch Punks. They will just be decentralized and preserved on the blockchain. The only thing we intend to do is support a few museums and institutions in their quest to acquire a Punk and help educate their audience about them.”

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. 

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