Alicja Kwade Releases Personal DNA as a Series of NFTs
The NFT derives from an earlier work in which Kwade printed her entire genome on over 250,000 sheets of paper.
Alicja Kwade, Selbstportrait (2020). 259,025 sheets of A4 paper (detail). Re-released in 2022 as a series of 10,361 NFTs in 2022. Photo: Roman Maerz. Courtesy the artist and KÖNIG GALERIE.
In 2020, artist Alicja Kwade printed her entire genome on 259,025 sheets of A4 paper. She titled the work Selbstportrait, German for self-portrait, and invited visitors to take a page of her away with them.
That work has now mutated into a series of 10,361 NFTs, each consisting of a 25-page PDF crammed with the DNA code letters A, C, G, and T.
'Right from the start, [Selbstportrait] was intended to be distributed around the world in non-repeatable sections,' Kwade told Ocula Magazine. 'Each part is a natural, non-fungible token that can be traced back to a person, and that person is me.'
'I am an NFT,' she said, and the Ethereum network provides 'a digital path to distribute it all over the world immediately.'
Kwade said she hadn't learned more about her own genetic traits since making her genome public because the information isn't easy to interpret without specialised training.
'It's basically encrypted information,' she said. And, anyway, she added, 'at this point, I'm not particularly interested in myself.'
With about 99.9% of our DNA shared with the rest of humanity, Kwade said Selbstportrait emphasises our similarities, and how much our differences are determined by our upbringings, our beliefs, and social injustices.
Kwade's DNA self-portrait differs from a traditional self-portrait in several ways.
'It is not an image, it is not external, it is not an ascription of character, it is not what society and the environment make of us,' she said.
Instead, her genome depicts something more.
'It is the matrix; it is all of us. It is information about the individual, and everyone, and the whole humanity.' —[O]