Crypto Art Exhibiyion

A Token Project: Can NFT Art Flourish in China?

NFTs are increasingly popular in China’s art world, but their dubious legal status may stop them from taking off

By day, Eminem Guo is a worker at a state-owned enterprise in Shenzhen. But after hours, he’s selling on a black market. Together with other anonymous Chinese internet users, “Kelly” and “Marktim,” he has set up “Tiger Club,” an account selling digital art as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) on sales platform OpenSea.

Although NFTs are technically banned in China, there is huge interest in the country: Chinese servers dominated global Google searches on NFTs in 2021 according to Google Trends. Some are tapping into the action covertly, seeking untold riches potentially just a VPN connection away.

NFTs are a complicated subject—in a nutshell, they are usually a digital image that is assigned value by being unique. They can be traded digitally, as long as they are attached to a cryptocurrency, like Ethereum (ETH) or Bitcoin, which keep records of all exchanges to guarantee against fraud or forgery.

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A Token Project: Can NFT Art Flourish in China? is a story from our issue, “State of The Art.” To read the entire issue, become a subscriber and receive the full magazine. Alternatively, you can purchase the digital version from the App Store.


author Rory Mencin

Rory Mencin is an independent curator and art critic currently located in Chengdu, China. With a focus on Chinese Urban Art post reform and opening-up, he has organized a number of exhibitions in Chengdu, Shanghai, and Beijing focused on the intersection between art, commerce, and street culture internationally. When not writing or planning shows he can be found socializing in white cube art galleries, or exploring the back alleys of megacities.

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