You’ve heard of the controversial digital currency Bitcoin, but have you heard of BitchCoin, a similar form of currency with a unique twist? BitchCoin was launched by artist Sarah Meyohas in conjunction with Where, a gallery and thinktank in Brooklyn in February, and the concept is inspired by Bitcoin’s, but the twist is that a unit of BitchCoin buys a small piece of Meyohas’ work — and an investment in her future work.
Meyohas, who is pursuing an M.F.A in photography at Yale University, is no stranger to the business world — she studied finance at the Wharton School of Business — and she came up with the sassy-named idea to address some of the financial challenges up-and-coming artists face. One aim of the currency is to provide a mechanism for an artist to profit from a piece of work that wildly increases in value after the artist initially sells the piece.
“BitchCoin asserts artistic agency as an economic claim,” Meyohas told Women in the World in an email interview. “This is important for artists when art is viewed as cultural capital.”
When buyers purchase a BitchCoin, they receive a certificate that can be exchanged for a print at a rate fixed by Meyohas. Then, each print is locked away in a safety deposit box on Wall Street.
Since Meyohas sets the exchange rate, she retains some control as the value of her work increases or decreases. “In a post-industrial world, value lies in the design, hardly in the material,” Meyohas said. “BitchCoin allows art collectors to invest directly in me as value producer.”
Another interesting aspect to BitchCoin is that Meyohas is using herself and her body to shine a spotlight on the relationship between capitalism and the female body.
Speculation, the first BitchCoin image, explores how society views women’s bodies and the values placed on them. It shows a mirror placed between Meyohas’ bare legs and it reflects the photo, in which she wears only a necklace of flowers around her neck, over and over and over, as though she and the mirror are facing another mirror.
The exchange of the female body appears entrenched in capitalism. Moreover, it is a system of relations in which women do not even reap the gains of their circulation, Meyohas said.
“After all, the exchange of women is a concept that is mightily alluring. BitchCoin taps into that, with every transaction. A likeness of the female body is still exchanged, but the currency is now feminized.”