France's 1st NFT art gallery opens in Cannes
Rue des Belges keeps getting cooler with the city's newest ground-breaking NFT art gallery bridging the human and digital worlds.
Down a small, but very hip side street between the Croisette and rue d’Antibes, a new art gallery is opening its doors to the public. But this isn’t any regular art gallery. La Meta Factory is the very first permeant NFT art gallery in France and the man behind the new venture is more interested in teaching you about NFTs than in being a cliché snobby gallery owner.
Bon Vivant Mag sat down with ‘Mr No ID’ just days before the opening to find out what this new gallery concept is bringing to Cannes. The conversation that ensued was nothing as expected, but rather an enlightening and even reassuring discussion on the importance of learning the blockchain, crypto currencies and investing in NFT art.
Despite his down-to-earth, “human” intentions of being a physical bridge to the digital world, this self-taught NFT entrepreneur does insist on remaining anonymous, holding on to that elusive, underground world of Crypto. Keep an eye out for his hat and black mask at the opening!
Enjoying a coffee inside the pristine new gallery, surrounded by stunning pieces of art, sculptures and flat screens displaying NFT works, I discover that Mr No ID has just jumped head-first into the art world without a background in art.
“I started working with NFTs 8 months ago… I got interested and learned about it online. I did the opposite [of what’s normal] and started with NFT and then got into Crypto currency. I happened upon a few good NFTs, wound up doing well and that’s how I got into Crypto and the gallery.”
NFT is a new concept in France — there are few pop-up galleries that open for 1 or 2 weeks with a specific project, he explains, but La Meta Factory is permanent and they will change their collection every 3 months with new artists and new styles. His goal is to be a solid, physical contact for people who are interested in NFTs, want to buy digital works, and will feel more comfortable having a place of business and a real person to contact throughout the entire process.
The NFT market can be a risky place, mainly because it’s not tangible - purchases often take place over new platforms and contacts are only email addresses. Mr No ID explains that false manipulation of digital goods has raised a lot of concern and a lack of trust. “With us, they can come see us, ask us questions, we guide them through the process, even 3 to 4 months later, they can call us and ask questions.”
The idea for La Meta Factory was borne out of last year’s explosion of NFTs. And with the popularity, people have been asking what it is, what’s with the screen, where is the image…? Also, hearing the sometimes astronomical prices being paid for a digital image (did a pixelated gorilla mask come to mind?), people are scratching their heads trying to understand. This is where the education concept comes in. La Meta Factory’s goal is: 1) to reassure and educate those interested in discovering this art form, 2) work with artists wanting to know how they can make NFTs, and 3) educated the young kids who have only ever touched their phone and who have no idea what real art is. Mr No ID sees the gallery as a bridge between the digital and the real world.
It's not only the buyers he intends to 'help' but the community as a whole. All ages, all backgrounds and even NFT insiders. It’s also very important for him to teach kids that having a phone is important and having digital artwork is good, but that they need to understand that artwork is done by people who have worked for 10, 15, 20 years to create their name. "It’s a goal of mine to teach these kids today who are on their phone all day long what it’s like to touch real-life art."
A bridge, of course, goes both ways. La Meta Factory has already made several partnerships and collaborations between artists. Digital artists who don’t make real-life art are aided to make collaborations with working artists to create a piece to accompany the NFT. All of the digital works featured in the gallery (the ones on the screens) will have a real wall-worthy piece of art artwork created, whether a painting or a sculpture.
A human gallery and autonomous galleries
While explaining the importance of human contact, Mr No ID also plans non-human galleries. The Meta Factory in Cannes is the flagship 'manned' gallery but it is the first of several planned galleries, which are intended to be autonomous. Definitions and explanations will line the walls, explaining the concept to visitors. What is an NFT? What is the Blockchain? How do I use the MetaMask?
The lessons starts when you walk into the gallery and as you progress through the long, narrow space, you evolve with the experience, learning more along the way. And a pesky sales agent? Individual QR codes handle the sales.
And let’s not forget the Metaverse, where the gallery can be visited virtually from anywhere in the world. La Meta Factory's current collection can be viewed and even purchased by someone in their pyjamas on the other side of the planet.
The future is now
If you haven’t grasped the mega change of the Meta universe by now, hold on to your socks. But don’t worry, many people don’t understand the concept, even Mr No ID told us:
“I learned about NFTs by myself—I’m not an expert, I’m a novice. Meaning, I won't even understand someone who is an expert! Even if I’m opening this gallery, I would’t understand them because they have a language that is too complex. Here, I am offering a simple explanation in plain words, that won’t break your brain so that regular people can understand.”
Educations, he says, is the keyword for this new gallery. To teach, guide and help newcomers through the process.
“Big, long words and cryptic descriptions don’t help anyone. It’s a complex subject and it needs to be explained simply. It needs to be fluid. We developed a series of boards that I think in a matter of 30 minutes, will help people get started [in NFTs].”
So, are we seeing the next big change like we did with the internet? Where some were instantly riding the wave and others were skeptical that it was just a fad… It would appear so. Mr No ID recalled the switch we made from analog to smartphones. It’s a transition and a learning curve, but you can’t just say “I don’t understand it” and ignore it. This is the future of our daily lives, like the smartphone has become and we need to wrap our head around it as fast as possible. Anyone fighting it and passing it off… will get left in the dust. But don't feel 'too old' for blockchain! The gallery founder explains:
“If there is someone in their 60’s or 70’s who thinks, no, I can’t get into NFTs, it’s not true! Someone who knew rotary phones, black and white TVs, Bee-Bop, then the fax, and cordless phones, the internet and then smartphones, they have seen and learned way more than us and have no reason to think they can’t learn this, too.”
The Meta Factory collection features the contemporary art style typical to the French Riviera--bright, colourful and playful. From paintings to sculptures; optical illusions to flat screens with NFT designs, they pieces by some very famous artists, including accordion sculptures by Felix Semper, paintings by Saatchi artist Ali Sabet, shiny gold Popaz sculptures, Gabe Weis NFTs, and many more. You’ll also find music, film and tattoo artists.
My personal favourite, ‘Iggy Toast’ is a shiny pastel panel with a toaster popping out a slice of toast… and Iggy Pop. Of course. Whether you are interested in NFTs or not, it's a fun contemporary art gallery to visit. Plus you'll learn a few things along the way!
Buying an NFT
Here’s where the blockchain comes in. It’s not only the artwork that is walking into the future, but even the purchasing platform. Each piece in the gallery, whether the NFT on the screen or a real painting, will have a unique QR code that you can scan with your phone and it will take you directly to the gallery’s website to purchase the piece, where you can then pay directly with Visa, Mastercard, or Crypto currency. After this, you have your own smart contract with identifying number and you will be updated with the exact status of your order as it progresses.
You won't leave empty-handed
The policy of the gallery is to purchase digital works and when clients buy an NFT artwork, the gallery offers a real piece of art to take home. Everything in the gallery is their own property from private collections - they have a strict rule of not selling art from auction sites - and each NFT has a physical piece of artwork that goes with it. Some of the pieces are just the artwork because the NFT is still in production. In this case, the client will be purchasing the very first of the NFT series to come out, making the investment much more valuable.
In addition to the grand works of art that you can bring home with your NFT purchase, La Meta Factory is working with an American company to create special plexiglass objects with the NFT featured within, so the image can be on display in a tangible way.
Come to Cannes and check out this brand new, innovative art gallery — the first in France — to explore the world of NFT art, see the fun artwork that varies from paintings to sculptures; music to tattoo art and everything in between.
Gallery Opening: Thursday, 26 May from 6 pm.
La Meta Factory
11, rue des Belges
Find work from all of the following artists:
St Jame by David Santiago
Boneheads by Davey Oberlin
Jean Samuel Halifi
Miguel Vieira Da Silva