Emily Ratajkowski is the latest model to delve into the world of NFTs. (and specifically, its monetary value) in the digital era. The NFT is available at auction by Christies on May 14.
The endeavor comes after the 29-year-old model wrote about how, as a model and internet sensation, her image and identity is routinely corrupted by male artists and photographers at her expense. Her viral and powerful essay for New York Magazine, Buying Myself Back, detailed how the artist Richard Prince had used an old Sports Illustrated Swimsuit picture of her (for which she been paid $150) and used it as part of his Instagram series. Ratajkowski later bought it from Prince for $81,000.
The NFT that will be available—a JPEG file linked to the token ID–shows Ratajkowski posing at her home in New York in front of the Prince piece. As per Christies, it thus “raises questions surrounding the nature of authorship, specifically when it comes to the digital realm, while figuratively returning the Instagram post to its digitally native terrain.” (Meta!!)
Writing on Instagram, Ratajkowski said, “Art has historically functioned similarly: works of unnamed muses sell for millions of dollars and build careers of traditionally male artists, while the subjects of these works receive nothing. I have become all too familiar with this narrative.” Citing visionary female artists like Carolee Schneemann, Hannah Wilke, and Adrian Piper as inspiration, the model added, “NFTs carry the potential to allow women ongoing control over their image and the ability to receive rightful compensation for its usage and distribution.”
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On the back of her essay for New York Magazine, which also revealed how she was sexually assaulted by a photographer who would go on to make tens of thousands of dollars selling coffee table books containing pictures from the night in question, Ratajkowski obtained her first book deal. The collection of essays, “My Body,” is set to publish in 2022 and will explore her personal examination of what it means to be a woman and a commodity. The publisher has said the book will touch on the themes of feminism, sexuality, men’s treatment of women, and women’s rationalization for accepting that treatment.