Women in Crypto Vol. I: What is NOT an NFT? Interview with Chiara Gesualdo


In the last two years, the art world has undergone ups and downs, revealing weaknesses and strengths and laying the foundations for new roads of innovation, among which NFTs are the main protagonists. They are talked about everywhere and one thing has become clear: they are here to stay, whether we like it or not.In

this first article, Chiara Gesualdo, founder of Onstream Gallery, will help us understand the essential concepts of NFT, blockchain, and their use in the art world, laying the foundations for future insights.

Chiara Gesualdo is a teacher of the course Digital Tools New Technologies for Art and Culture, at the Foundation School of Cultural Heritage and Activities of the Italian Ministry of Culture. In 2020 she founded Onstream Gallery, an online art gallery for the new generation of collectors.

Chiara Gesualdo, founder of Onstream Gallery

Women in Crypto is a project that wants to open the doors of this world that still seems dominated by male personalities to all female entrepreneurs who want to discover new ways to invest and innovate their businesses. 
What is an NFT? Why invest in Crypto Art? What are the risks and the opportunities for a business that wants to use this type of technology?
In this series of articles, we will give voice to the female protagonists of the new digital age: crypto experts, NFT artists, and entrepreneurs in the art world will talk to us about their experiences and explain how this new world works.

Chiara, thank you for taking part in this project, can you tell us something about Onstream Gallery? In what does the project consist and how did the idea come about?

Onstream Gallery is an innovative hybrid gallery model focused on exploring and promoting emerging artists. It was born from the desire to democratize the collecting of emerging art online and offline. By removing the stigma of the traditional gallery through edutainment, Onstream Gallery addresses the new generation of art collectors. 

Our exhibition program focuses on curating online exhibits and physical pop-up exhibits, and we represent a diverse selection of interesting emerging artists. In particular, we like to focus our work on supporting those artists who leverage technology to create new creative dialogues. We have recently closed Blending Boundaries by Juls Gabs, a digital artist whose an approach ranges from traditional paintings to digital ones, from the Crypto Experience to Nft through Augmented Reality and Social Media Art.

Our audience is made up of young potential entrepreneurs. Some of these are approaching both the NFT and art worlds for the first time, can you explain briefly what an NFT is?

Let's start by saying what an NFT is NOT: it is not a work of art and it is not a digital work of art.

The NFT is a tool and not the digital representation of physical artworks.

That is, it is nothing more than a tool that uses Blockchain technology. It stands for Non Fungible Token, and it is a technology that is used, in art, to certify and authenticate digital works of art. Thanks to the NFT these digital works become unique and are not reproducible. In this way, the NFTs have opened the doors of the art market to digital art.

So, to clarify what we are talking about when we use the term NFT we could say that a Non Fungible Token is a type of token or a "block" in the digital register that takes the name of Blockchain. Instead of being interchangeable as cryptocurrencies (such as Bitcoin and Ethereum), it is non-fungible, therefore unique.

Shattered Glass by FEWOCiOUS.
Shattered Glass by FEWOCiOUS


NFT - non fungible token: 

an NFT, non-fungible-token, is a unique and non-interchangeable data stored in a digital register (the blockchain) that can be used as a certificate of authenticity; a system that makes unique digital assets that can be easily reproduced such as images, videos, audio files, digital art.

They are created through algorithms generated through the blockchain that connects a precise dataset to previously recorded data series, thus creating a chain of data blocks, each with its own identification code. Like a digital signature, this process called "minting" ensures the authenticity of each file.

How does the NFT market differ from the normal art market? What are the advantages and opportunities for those who want to invest in digital rather than physical art?

NFTs allow you to have:

  • Traceability: the NFT certifies that you are the sole owner of those assets, certifying origin and ownership.
  • Authenticity: unlike a traditional work of art, with works of art registered as NFT there is no need for a certificate of authentication because everything is registered on the blockchain. The NFT is in itself the certificate of authenticity. 
  • Utility: certain artists offer through NFTs something more in return: access to exclusive content, previews, and VIP tickets.
  • Liquidity: NFTs can be resold much more simply and much faster than traditional works of art without the need for intermediaries.
  • Transparency: it is certainly a great advantage in favor of those who want to collect NFTs, transactions are recorded, and consequently you know perfectly how much that NFT has been bought for, how much sold for and by whom, etc. This is certainly an advantage over the traditional market where prices are still taboo for many.

CryptoMADONNE Collection

The NFTs have revolutionized how it is possible to buy art, collect it and sell it. What opportunities are there for cultural institutions from the point of view of fundraising through NFTs?

An example of how cultural institutions can leverage NFTs is the Eternalizing Art History exhibition. This was a groundbreaking exhibition where digital reproductions of some of the greatest masterpieces of the works of masters such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Hayez, Raphael, and Modigliani were displayed. Starting from the very high-resolution photos of some of the greatest Italian masterpieces, they created a digital reproduction of the original (DAW - Digital Art Work) and put it up for sale.

In this case, NFTs have created opportunities in terms of accessibility, conservation of the asset, and the possibility of generating new revenues for institutions. Generating revenue has certainly been essential, especially after a period in which they have been closed for two years, and considering that much of the museum's revenue comes from the sale of tickets to visitors). I would say it is an excellent opportunity.

When we talk about NFT we always think of contemporary and digital art; what are the opportunities that Blockchain technology opens up to physical art?

NFTs are a useful tool for the conservation of the work of art. Think about the fact that in a few hundred years these works will no longer exist: thanks to their digital reproduction we can keep them for future generations. 

The issue of accessibility also comes into play. In the case of Eternalising Art history, for example, the works to be digitized were chosen for their importance but also because some of them cannot leave their original location, being already in very fragile conditions. Thanks to NFTs, the works can travel and be loaned to other museums so that that work can be made accessible to different audiences. In other words, by exploiting NFTs, museums can continue to perform their primary function: that of preserving the collection and making it accessible to an increasingly wider public.

Melanie Greyer, don’t give me orchids | Avaliable here on Artsted.com

You have been to the Non Fungible Conference in Lisbon: an international event where the greatest exponents of the NFT world met (finally) live. Has this environment changed since the end of the pandemic?

During the Non Fungible Conference I was able to see the faces of people that until then I only knew through their twitter account, and it was paradoxical to see how people did not have their name and surname on the badge but their nickname.

In any case, I believe that events such as the NFC confirm the desire and the need, even in the post-pandemic digital world, to interact and get to know each other live.

Your latest project is a metaverse exhibition. What prospects are there now for the enjoyment of art through the metaverse?

I am working with a new OSG artist on the next metaverse exhibit. With him, we are trying to create an experience that leads people to ask themselves: how much reality is there in the metaverse?

Personally, I feel like saying that the metaverse is not an experience that wants to replace the physical one. It is a different experience where, paradoxically, there is something real. It is us with our avatar who are there and interact with others, but it is us. If I had to define it in two words I would say that the metaverse is a virtual expansion of our real life.

To follow Chiara's project and discover all the news on the NFT and art side, you can find it here and here.

Written by
Alice Asia Bergagnin