Contract Killers | 2021

Exhibited in June 2021 in ‘Proof of Art,’ the first Museum exhibition on the history of NFTs, at Francisco Carolinum in Linz, Austria, Contract Killers is a site-specific, augmented reality series created by Nancy Baker Cahill, collaboratively developed into a unique and powerful NFT project with several co-conspirators. The digital assets are minted on the environmentally responsible Tezos blockchain, and paired with physical assets, rewards and consequences outlined in a reimagined “smarter” contract, and essays from the artist; the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston Executive Director Hesse McGraw; and noted art attorney, Sarah Conley Odenkirk, partner at the law firm of Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP.

 

The project launched on Snark.art, an online platform which incubates artists' innovations on the blockchain.

Each AR handshake, recorded in front of a selected charged environment in Los Angeles, represents a realm of obligation and agreement where trust evaporates, where stated contracts continue to fail individuals and communities. 

-City Hall: to underscore the dissolution of policies that force us to recognize that we belong to each other 

-Hall of Justice: to address the profiteering and injustices of the prison industrial complex, court system, and all beneficiaries and victims therein

-Fiat Cash: to point to the gross inequities of late-stage capitalism

In addition to the AR ‘Contract Killers’ NFTs, collectors had the option to include a non-digital object in their acquisition.

 

The four resin objects represent the broken contracts highlighted: Social (pink), Financial (green), Judicial (red) and Civic (graphite).

“In addition to the AR video captures, a single fragment from each of the Contract Killers dissolving handshakes will be memorialized—immobilized—in respectively colored resin blocks. These linked artifacts of an ephemeral digital moment nod to the mythology of permanence while anchoring a sober moment of reflection in spacetime. In every case, Contract Killers seeks to use the language of augmented reality’s “there/not-thereness” to highlight the living consequences of broken contracts, and to inspire the collective building of an accountability system that fulfills the promises of its earliest architects.”