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Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted: August 23, 2018

Artist Description: Spacious  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Felt it was right to put on Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” before I started writing about Tethered, a piece from early on in the Superrare career of artist FollowFridays which features, aptly, a pink moon. Huge and luminous, it dominates most of the image, a quasi-unfamiliar version of our own moon, though one that has been flipped and discolored. Collage of the type FollowFridays uses in Tethered is rather rare in their oeuvre, one dominated by still-lifes of a sort and cheeky half-political imagery. This is an artist who seems most interested in micro instead of macro. Much of their early works focus on animal heads —a crow’s, a lion’s, a pair of human skulls. Tethered is their first Superrare foray into collage, here presented perhaps less extremely than it would later on, when blood drips upon hundred-dollar bills, when a dolphin’s face is superimposed onto Hitler’s body, when a fish explodes out of a toilet. Perhaps it’s not traditional collage; there’s usually a narrative that can be drawn out of the context. Tethered is perhaps less keen on narrative and more keen on some impressionistic emotion. It’s a deeply ironic piece, the title in direct oxymoronic opposition to the subject matter itself. 

It should really be called Untethered, as the image displays two images with little physical connection to each other, certainly not connected by anything within the frame which we can see. The aforementioned pink moon takes up about half the image, hung stationary over the right half of the frame. On the other side, after a chasm of outer-spatial blackness, a lone astronaut faces the moon, one arm at her side, another at her hip. Between them, a phrase blinks on and off like a faulty neon sign outside a dive bar. “Tethered no more…. ..” (sic) it reads. 

For collage, Tethered is pretty empty, empty enough that it makes me doubt if this kind of moniker is even appropriate. Better yet, it’s kind of an anti-collage, with blank space taking up the majority of the image, and even when there are oddly-sourced images presented within that collage, they are, in the case of the pink moon, huge and lacking detail. The image is most dominantly characterized by its lack of collage, by its encircling each of its disparate images with emptiness, which conjures feelings of antipathy and loneliness. For an image that so powerfully displays a message about untethering, that seems rather apt.

I mentioned before that Tethered is less keen on narrative, and while I stand by that, there is a certain narrational undercurrent that I believe serves as foundation for the subsequent emotional expression. The dominant images here, the moon and the astronaut, are storied images within cryptocurrency. The moon, of course, to denote “mooning” or the hyper-rise in value of a coin, NFT, or other web3 property. The astronaut representing those on the journey upward (at least as far as I can tell from my research; Google is strangely bereft of knowledge about this astronaut, which I know to be a widespread motif). This piece was minted on August 23rd, 2018, a small lifetime before NFTs and crypto art would find mainstream footing. Ditto cryptocurrencies themselves. From January 1s of that year until August 23rd when the piece minted, Ethereum had fallen almost 80%, from ~$1200 a coin to around ~$250, and if I’m extrapolating backwards knowing what I know from the current mass crypto exodus after the latest market crash, it’s safe to assume that the huge loss of value led to many fleeing the space. I imagine they were the same people once screaming loudly about a moon mission, considering themselves astronauts themselves, en route to an easy life and an impending fortune.

A market crash doubtlessly changes that calculation. And when I see this lone astronaut, one hand outstretched back towards the same moon which once must have motivated them, I feel not only the alienation of their newfound solitude, I can sense the final snapping of a rope without any more slack to give. 

While we can’t see her face, the astronaut is positioned towards the moon —now discolored and turned upside-down, perhaps representing topsy-turvy and unfamiliar market conditions— like a young person at a train station, their lover speeding away on the leaving locomotive, and what can they do but reach out pitifully as the object of their affection escapes their grasp. 

And so that’s ultimately what I mean when I say that the narrative, even if it’s perhaps imagined, works to prop up the emotional resonance of the piece, that this slight amount of context helps add an aura of melancholy and pained valediction to the images. The lonely astronaut, leaving at long last the moon which had been their guide and their light. The moon, which does not vanish but which languishes forevermore with its newfound lack of occupancy. The ever-growing chasm of space between them. And the key words in the piece, not “Tethered” but “no more.” Because neither party wanted their separation to occur. But it did. And now everything, both astronaut and planetary body, is adrift. 

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