CRONIN: NFTs by chimpanzees, like 1950s primate art, raise questions about the nature of creativity

Keri Cronin, Associate Professor of History of Art and Visual Culture at Brock University, wrote a piece published in The Conversation about art created by non-human animals.

She writes:

“According to the Save the Chimps sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Fla., history was made when non-human primates created NFTs (non-fungible tokens). As with all NFTs, these pieces are unique digital collectibles.

 The art was created by chimpanzees like Cheetah. Cheetah had lived alone in a steel cage for 13 years and was used in a biomedical study, but now lives at the Save the Chimps sanctuary. The money raised from Cheetah’s and others chimps’ Primal Expressions painting collection sales will help to support sanctuary operations.

 Save the Chimps was founded in 1997 by primatologist Carole Noon, and its residents come to the sanctuary from a range of situations. Consider the trio who created these NFTs: Tootie began life in the entertainment industry, and both Cheetah and Clay spent years in research laboratories. Today all three are members of the chimp family at Save the Chimps. The CEO of the sanctuary says the chimps have responded positively to the inclusion of art supplies as part of their enrichment program.

 The launch of these NFTs is the latest chapter in a long and complex history of non-human animals in the art world. As I have explored in my research, this history also includes thinking about how those advocating for the well-being of animals have used artwork in their campaigns. My exploration of these questions led me to co-found The Unbound Project, dedicated to sharing stories about contemporary and historic women at the forefront of animal advocacy worldwide.”

Continue reading the full article here.

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