Will Brown, Ether
September 13–November 10, 2018
Opening reception: Thursday, September 13, 6–9pm

Walter and McBean Galleries
San Francisco Art Institute

In the late 1970s, San Francisco Art Institute sold their collection of Eadweard Muybridge photographs to finance the creation of what is now the New Genres department. This speculative maneuver wagered the future of media against the history and foundations of the moving image. In a similarly speculative action, Will Brown has invested our exhibition budget in Ether, the underlying token powering the Ethereum blockchain.

Both utopian and dystopian, cryptocurrency exists based on a distrust of centralized government and financial systems—predicting their eventual collapse while simultaneously representing a collective effort to survive by creating a financially sustainable economy in the hands of citizens.

At irregular intervals and in unfixed amounts, any profits over the initial investment are redirected into an SFAI student, staff, or faculty project — an unmediated re-investment in the artistic mission of the school. The value of our buy will be monitored by an accompanying mobile application that doubles as a grant application portal. That said, the crypto-marketplace is such that gain is often preamble to loss. With concern, we have responded in real time by creating a kind of perverted and complicit artistic autonomy; we do and don’t hope it pays off.

This project is supported by the Creative Work Fund and the National Endowment for the Arts.