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012. non-fungible talent: gabriel guerra bianchini on cuba & NFTs

Carmen: [00:00:00] Can you believe this all started with cats on the internet? Of course

Fryda: [00:00:03] I do. Like the internet is made of cats. And so if anything, spawns from it, it will be the children of the kitties.

Carmen: [00:00:10] Absolutely cats to the internet go together and like, you know, shamamalamama dingi da dingy da bop

Fryda: [00:00:24] Hi, Carmen.

Carmen: [00:00:25] Hi Fryda.

Fryda: [00:00:27] What are we getting into today?

Carmen: [00:00:28] Today, we are going to sit down with one of Cuba's very first NFT artists Gabriel Guerra Bianchini. But first, what is an NFT

Fryda: [00:00:38] an NFT is a non-fungible token.

Carmen: [00:00:42] So for your edumacation, fungible means that something is tradable for something else. So money like the US dollar and even cryptocurrency are fungible. $1 is always equal to another dollar. One Bitcoin is always equal to another Bitcoin. If you take your dollars to the marketplace, you can buy very many things with dollars and everyone agrees to use dollars for the trading of goods and services.

To be nonfungible is to be lacking that. NFTs are non-fungible tokens because you can't go and trade and one NFT for another NFT, you can only acquire an NFT by purchasing it with cryptocurrency specifically NFTs live on the Ethereum blockchain, which is a distributed public ledger that records transactions.

Fryda: [00:01:38] So we are here talking about cryptocurrency, blockchain, and a couple of different currencies, right? So let's take a step back and say that NFTs emerged from this whole ecosystem of cryptocurrency, but it isn't a currency in itself, right. It can be bought with cryptocurrency.

Carmen: [00:01:59] Correct. Yep. And so why did this all start with cats? Because the first NFTs were literally cute little pictures of cartoon cats.

Fryda: [00:02:09] Oh, I feel like I remember seeing that and it being just like, I was thinking like, what, what is this, what is this ridiculous thing? I thought it was just like some other ridiculous thing on the internet where you like add value to something that has no value. Fast forward and here we are, and we're going to end up talking about what it has meant and what it is, meaning for artists in Cuba. An NFT again is a non-fungible token. It can be artwork. It can be GIFs videos, virtual stuff, music, and more

Carmen: [00:02:39] video game skins, even tweets music. Yeah.

Fryda: [00:02:42] Yeah. So basically if something is digital and you mint it in an NFT marketplace, it becomes an NFT, right?

Carmen: [00:02:50] Yeah. And when you do that, you can assign it a value in terms of cryptos. So it can be worth one Ethereum, it can be worth half an Ethereum. It can be worth 0.02578 Ethereum,

Fryda: [00:03:04] this value is very, ethereal is that the word? Oh my God,

Carmen: [00:03:10] it would be ephemeral ephemeral.

Fryda: [00:03:11] Oh my God. It's in the ether. Okay. This value is in the ether. Can you tell me an example of how much one Etherium can be worth? Like let's say in dollars because that's a currency. We might be a little more familiar with.

Carmen: [00:03:23] Yeah. So. Ethereum is a cryptocurrency, probably the most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin.

And probably the next runner up is doge coin and Ethereum, as of right this moment. And I'm saying that because this changes literally from one minute to the next, but as of right now, one of Ethereum is currently trading at $2,857 and 70 cents.

Fryda: [00:03:48] Yeah. So it is quite a lot. If you end up selling your art for one Ethereum, It changes over time. Yeah. So I wanted to actually come up with a quick little hypothetical. So let's say I, you know, I make a piece of artwork and it's digital art and I sell it to you Carmen for half an Ethereum. First of all, is there any way to know that I own that artwork? Second of all, can you keep it selling it to other folks. And what happens there

Carmen: [00:04:15] when you buy and NFT, you are essentially buying a piece of code on a blockchain, and that can get confusing because what you're seeing is a piece of digital art or a piece of digital work in front of you. That thing has been assigned to that piece of code, and that is in and of itself it’s tokenization it's validation or it's verification. So you own properties to that piece of digital work and you therefore own that token because you paid for it. And so you can turn around and sell it, but you can only sell it once because you only have one of it. So you only bought one, if that makes sense.

And when you go off and you sell it, the artist can receive royalties, which is a very unique. Part of all of this because traditionally or an artist sells a physical piece of work. They don't usually get royalties. It's a one-time lump sum deal. And after that, if it keeps changing hands, they don't see any more money for it.

So this is a really simplified explanation of NFTs this entire metaverse. And cryptocurrencies. And if you're interested in learning more or if you think it's really cool, I highly encourage you to go do your own research and learn more about it. If you didn't know this about me, I work at the intersection of finance and media, and I also Moonlight as an oil painter.

So my little heart is absolutely thrilled right now to be able to chat with Gabrielle Guerra Bianchini he is coming to us straight from La Habana in Cuba. He's using like 11 VPNs because that's just how it is. Um, so we're really happy. Gabriel, how are you?

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:06:01] Hello, how you doing? Happy to connect with you from the islands.

Fryda: [00:06:08] We are so, so happy to connect with you too. We'd love to start by getting to know you a bit more. Tell us more about your history

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:06:17] I born in Cuba in 1984, half of my family coming from Italy and Switzerland. And the other half of my family come from Santa Clara from right from another provincia de cuba,

Fryda: [00:06:33] that's where Carmen is from.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:06:35] Yeah. Well, my father comes from there and my grandmother, you know, all my father's family at the moment, I got 18 years. I decided to, to leave the country to go to, to Spain. I understood that I had a passport. That was something that a lot of people was looking for. You know, the opportunity to fly. I was living my dreams because I love adventure and it was incredible.

It gave me confidence to understand that I can begin from zero at any place at any moment. And it's funny because it's there where I. Both my first camera and I discover that I was good is in something. I, at that moment I met a place called Asociacion Cultural Yemayá . I started to go there because Cuban culture was the main street of this place.

All musicians, any kind of musician from Cuba. When they go to play in Europe, all of them, they went to this place. To Asociacion Cultural Yemayá and always just to have fun and play. And, you know, they had a little place for concert, really small, but the energy was so Cuban. And I went with my camera and I started photographing these concerts and everything started there.

After some time they started calling me and telling me, man, we going to have a concert, some here, please come to my photos. So for the first time my photography was. Opened me the doors to know these amazing artists and to share with them and photograph them. And I find out that photography was something else for me too.

It's like one day I looked at myself and I said, man, I, when I started photography, I didn't started photography to do this 24/7. I want to do something else. I was drawing in a little book that I have Ideas of photos that I wanted to create, but all the ingredients of these draws were in Cuba. that day. I find out that I wanted to come back to Cuba to make these draws real photography. So that's the reason after 12 years in Europe, that was the main reason. I said one day to my friends there. Most of them, Cubans that were living in Europe for 20 years, for 15 years when I told them okay, I’m coming back to Cuba, none of them, understood anything they made, they prepare a meeting for me.

Carmen: Oh my gosh,

Fryda: an intervention!

Gabriel Bianchini: They made a meeting for me. And they, one day they call me, Hey, come, I went there and it was so serious. I didn't look.

Carmen: [00:09:23] You're like, I thought we were going to eat cheese and drink wine guys.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:09:26] They were like, really?

Fryda: [00:09:29] They were like, gabriel gabriel, un momentico.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:09:34] They were like, okay, this is crazy. But man, please. What the hell are you doing? Why are you going to come back to Cuba after 12 years living in Europe? And I didn't have the words to explain it. It's difficult to explain that to Cubans, that quit Cuba that have their family and the life for 20, 15 years in another country.

And they never, never, never going to think about coming back to these. Yeah.

Carmen: Why is that? Why doesn't anybody want to come back to Cuba?

Gabriel Bianchini: We got to understand that. This government is a difficult government, really difficult to understand. I don't even understand. And also there are many people that have really horrible stories, you know, like so many artists that couldn't express themselves in Cuba because their art from one day to another was received like something bad from the government.

So this artists was never allowed to do nothing else. Like completely. They, they took him out from the cultural life. Or just because being gay or just because think different politically, all the things are horrible. Horrible. I will never agree with that. I know my, the story of Cuba. I understand that my government did so bad to so many people.

I quit my country because of adventure, because I wanted to leave because I wanted to be alone and know what are countries, so I didn't quit for political reason. That is really important. for taking a decision like that, you know, like coming back, even though I live the period especial. And I remember that so well, but again, I was a child.

I wasn't living in the building that have 25 floors and I was living in the 18th floor. during el periodo especial special. That means that we didn't have light. We didn't have water. I remember my father taking buckets every day, going down 18 floors, filling the buckets with water and going up 18 floors. And all my family.

Carmen: Comiendose un cable.

Gabriel Bianchini: Total total. Crazy. Crazy. I remember leaving this. I remember my mom, how tired she was. I remember how difficult, the reason I wanted to come back. It's always because I always hear my little boys inside. These boys gave me happiness all my life. That little boys told me. You have to go to Cuba. The funny thing is that one year after coming back to Cuba, these photos were my first series in fine art photography that opened me the doors of galleries and museums. One of the series right now is part of the permanent collection of a museum in Switzerland.

But it's crazy. When you think about that, I came back also because it was 2014 Obama and Raul starting to take in good relation. We're going to say. Between Cuba and US exactly that year.

Fryda: So things seemed to be kind of changing in that direction.

Carmen: [00:12:48] Well, it sounds like you became a photographer in Spain, but you became an artist in Cuba. Tell us a little bit about how you became involved with the whole NFT thing. What does it mean for you?

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:13:00] We heard about the stories about the sale of Beeple, you know, this artists that worked for 13 years and sold an NFT on christies ofr $69 million. That was in all the press worldwide.

Carmen: [00:13:15] For those of you, you don't know who Beeple is.

He is an American digital artist and he's incredibly prolific and he made history recently when he sold a piece as an NFT for $69.3 million. He's on Instagram as @beeple_crap beeble crap,

Fryda: Beeple crap

Carmen: Beeple crap. Yep. Anyway, back to the story.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:13:42] I remember at the moment I was using a lot clubhouse. The house has been a liberation because in Cuba we are, everything is closed and in clubhouse, I mean a lot of people making a lot of networking, meaning a lot of artists.

So this is great. I love club house. So when I started. Listening to this clubs, how to do it. I understood that it was not that difficult that these steps you can do it for Cuba. What are the steps? Uh, the steps is like having an e wallet. The second thing is opening an account in any platform to sell NFT and in marketplace, like opensea, you have to buy a little bit of Etherium 150 or $200 in Etherium. So you can pay the gas. That is the tax you have to pay to meet to public work so you can sell it.

Carmen: [00:14:38] Basically, you need to set up a crypto wallet and you need to also have an account on a platform that will sell your NFT, a marketplace. Then you take your money, your regular money, maybe in this case, we're talking about us dollars.

And then with that, you go to your wallet and you buy the cryptocurrency, which in this case is Ethereum. Then you take that Ethereum, go to the NFT marketplace and you pay the fee to be able to put up art so that then you can sell it for more Ethereum.


Fryda: [00:15:15] I remember you can do this, but there was a catch, right?

It wasn't that easy for you. So we'd love to hear about that.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:15:24] Any little thing you can do on internet, in any place in the world, not in any place, but you know, USA, for example, remember there is always a catch. If you do it from Cuba, always, always something, but you have to enter and do it to understand what is it?

So it happens to be the same. I did all the steps. But when I wanted to have Etherium to publish my NFT, I find out that I can't. First reason is you need a visa card. Or any one card to buy etherium. And the only person I called at this moment was my brother that lives in Norway right now. So I called him and I told him, man, I need you to buy Etherium for me please.

Carmen: [00:16:08] Oh my god. And he’s like Oh my God. are you crazy?

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:16:10] What is that? Yeah, he's investing on etherium.

Carmen: [00:16:16] This is the way. This is the future.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:16:18] Yeah. I opened the door or many, many people in my family and friends there. So he tried to, but he moved he's a us citizen, but he moved to norway because of this move, when he went to Coinbase, To buy the etherium, He got problems too. I was like, oh man, I need this now.

So I was in a club. Yeah. This is funny. I was in a clubhouse, in a room talking about the experience I have in from Cuba. Not even say I needed to, I didn't say that because I'm, I'm a really proud person. I started talking about that.

Sharing my experience from Cuba. Okay. uh, and yeah, right now I'm not mintg yet because I'm waiting for the etherium and there was a guy that was listened to me. This guy's 23 years old and he live in New York. So this guy called me, he told me, Hey, man, I'm going to call you on Instagram.

So he called me on Instagram. We met for the first time. So this guy was like, we'd started meeting shorter, just talking about our life. And he said at one moment to another, he said, okay, I'm going to pay you your gas. And I was like, what? Yeah, I'm going pay you your gas. I want you to meet your work right now.

And I say me. First I started saying no, then he just was like, Hey, I'm not going to discuss this. Please go up in your account, blah, blah, blah. And go. We're going to meet right now. And I was like, okay, we do it. And I'm going to give you the money back. Okay, don't worry about that. Don't worry about it. He was like, don't worry about, so we, yeah, he sent me the etherium from his wallet to my wallet and I could meet my first word, which was “Hotel Habana.”

And when I told him, man, at the moment I have sell, I insisted I'm going to send you the money back. And he said something really beautiful. I will never forget this guy. In fact, we are good friends right now. He will come to Cuba and he will stay in my house. He told me, okay. What I want you to do is to keep the chain of favors.

I did this for you. And I happy to do this for you At that moment, I understood that community and help in this NFT world is so important. So, and if this has not only came to change the life for so many artists in the world, but it's also came to create a new floor where we can start in new different way of creating art that is like having a great community, helping each other, eliminate gatekeepers.

Fryda: [00:18:56] Could you tell us a little bit of what it's normally like in Cuba to be an artist, make art and then perhaps, Sell it ?

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:19:08] I'm an independent artists. So my experience maybe is not the same as an artist that went to the school to the ISA Instituto Superior del arte. Or la Escuela Nacional del Arte, so I didn't want to those schools, so I cannot tell you the story How is it when you started these and you become part of this culture institution in Cuba, some independent artists, art in Cuba depends completely completely from foreign people. The art market in Cuba. Their collectors are completely foreign people. There is no Cuban collectors. We depend on people from other countries. to be allowed to work with galleries.

Cuba. You have to have on ID that is called Registro del Creador.

This number allowed you to work with galleries. And most of the galleries in Cuba are government galleries. They are part of a government institution. They are not private. The Gallery from the government are not allowed to sell art. I don't know how to explain this because even me, I don't understand it at all.

These galleries are not allowed to sell to a collector directly. So these collectors, what I maybe, what they do is getting touch with the artists and the gallery. Someone in the gallery takes some money in the middle of all that. I feel like this is all black market.

Carmen: [00:20:39] So basically what NFTs have done is offer an opportunity for artists to directly sell to the outside world and actually find an arena to be able to transact that doesn't involve the government and that doesn't involve galleries.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:20:56] Not only that it's also allows artists that are not part of a cultural institution from the government to be allowed to sell. There are many artists that have a very, how you say, arte contestatario. Art that is not approved by the government is not allowed to be presented at any exhibition at all.

So these artists, now they have an open door. An open window to connect to the world without these filters in the middle.

Carmen: [00:21:27] Another problem here is COVID. So COVID made it that there was no more tourism in Cuba for a while. So basically the system of trying to sell art via the legal ways or the proper ways in Cuba, basically shut down.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:21:44] As you said, we’ve been a year and three months already, or four months already, without none tourists, any tourists, we don't have collectors, all the institution Cultural institution are closed. We are not selling at all. for the first time at pushing the artists in Cuba to pay attention to internet, a lot of great artists in Cuba, doesn't have social media.

They doesn't even have the profile, their internet in Cuba, something like really young. We have internet for five years now. We have internet in some parts and squares. We have to go there with phones or computers and connect in this parts, like public places where everyone can see and everyone can listen to your conversation on internet. from a year and a half or two years I think So we have internet in our phones. So that means. We are allowed to be connected more privately. And that means that artists are making, now that taking care of creating their presence in internet.

Fryda: [00:22:53] So you have a particular political situation. You have a very strict process to do, Let's say, mainstream art in Cuba. We have COVID coming into everything and shutting things down. And we also have a very recent developments in access to internet. And then add to that a way to transact, maybe with NFTs or with being present on social media, changing so so much. But I want to take it back to when you, when you said that you were going to pass the favor forward.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:23:31] Oh Yes. When I entered to the NFT, when I publish, I started to sharing all this, in my social media, like Facebook, for example, what I have like a lot of Artists friends. And I have a lot of culturals institutions following me too. I started sharing every step I was doing. Okay. I could mint thanks to this guy. Okay. I did this in this platform.

Okay. I got the etherium from here. every day. Like I can tell you more than seven, eight, 10 people calling me, asking me for information, how you doing that? At the moment I received etherium. I started paying from all these artists that started to write me and asking me information on how to enter, I make in my head a little list of artists that I knew that were going to fit really well in the NFT.

So I started with mostly 3d artists. Imagine how important it is for the 3d artists that before NFT was allowed to give services. But he was not allowed to sell art. These artists were not allowed to put their art in an exhibition because it's 3d,

Carmen: [00:24:41] 3d, digital art. Why can 3d artists put their work in an exhibition?

Fryda: [00:24:46] I mean, my initial thought was okay, is it because it's digital art and can't be physically placed in an exhibition, but it kinda can be

Carmen: [00:24:56] no people have computers and TVs and stuff. If I had to take a good wild guess, I think it would have to be because this is an art form that isn't present within the pipeline of becoming an artist, you know, like going to school, studying, and then being recognized and getting a plantilla and all that stuff.

Fryda: [00:25:10] So yeah, 3d digital artists cannot exhibit their art in Cuba,

therefore there's really not an easy way to connect to collectors. So previously they couldn't sell. And now it looks like with NFTs, they might be able to sell. So Gabrielle, what happened next?

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:25:27] As the moment I got etherium, I started to pay the gas, this tax that you have to pay to these artists. I held them in every step. I send them from my wallet to their wallet, etherium necessary to pay the gas. I pay the gas for like, I think six artists already. I spent almost one interior in pain, gas to another artist and also collecting their art because I became a collector. I cannot touch that etherium right now.

I’m in Cuba. You need to have an account on Coinbase or one of these wallets where you are allowed to sell your etherium or cryptocurrency and convert this in FIAT money, like dollar or Euro or whatever. So I'm in Cuba and I cannot do that.

Fryda: Why can't you do it?

Gabriel Bianchini: Oh, because you need a social security from us, or you need to live in another country and have a social security.

So at the moment you want to compare your key to currency in money. You have to pay taxes. So that happens in every country. So when you are in a country where this tax machine works perfectly like in US or in Europe, you are allowed to do it. But in Cuba, we don't have these kind of things. So we are not allowed to convert.

So why I'm pushing, Cuban artists went in this place if they cannot touch the money.

Fryda: [00:26:56] That's a great question.

Gabriel Bianchini: I Yes ok, I have, I have some answers. I have answers. First, this maybe, will change in the future. That's the first thing. Okay. Second, even though you win and you keep it in your wallet, Etherium is going up all time.

So it's the way of growing your money. They can have cryptocurrency, thanks to the art. That is also important too. And third, there is always a solution for Cubans. We find solution like what, for example, having. A cousin or a brother or a friend in another country that can make us this favor, we can transfer the etherium to their wallet, They can convert it on Fiat. And at the moment they received the taxes, we can pay the taxes. So that's why. We are interested in being part of this too, not because only the money also, because this is an art revolution will be in the story of the art in the future. They will talk about this moment and we have to be there too.

Carmen: [00:28:02] Well. How do you think this is going to change Cuba? Like earlier when we spoke, you said that you wish you could tokenize the whole country,

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:28:09] uh, because we can live in a decentralized world without governments and without this kind of crazy problems that, that changed your life day to day. We are tired of that. We are tired of that.

I want my country to be free as it is. Okay. Or not, not really as it is because it's not really free, but we want our country independent. We are people and we have dreams like everyone. And We don't want to be all time dependent of ideologies. we understand the government has their ideologies. We understand other the government have their ideologies.

I understand all that. I’m tired that these governments take the life of the people because of their ideologies. I believe in life. I believe in humans, I believe in the great connection and the great opportunity we have. We are tired of living like this for 60 years because we have to be, I don't know, sociologist or whatever. That is, that is sorry for saying this, but that is bullshit.

Fryda: [00:29:14] Oh no, we are an explicit podcast. You can say bullshit.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:29:22] Thanks! That is so bullshit. We want to be happy, we want to be free. We want to have people that are agree are not agree living the same possibilities, the same opportunities they deserve it. We don't come to the world. We don't come to life to be thinking in one way. That is completely wrong. That is horrible to think. And that’s why I am not agree with this. I'm not agreeing with what is happening in my country.

I not agree at all, even though I love my country, but I do not agree. I will never defend that. In my career because being in Cuba, I've been inside these politic things sometimes. And I, every time I did that, I find out that it was a mistake. So from some years to now, the government is doing really bad. and mostly with artists.

Really bad. There is a lot of people in Cuba, and artists that are not agreed with the government at all. They are like really fighting every day to, to be heard. Most of the people come from San Isidro. Movimiento San Isidro. San Isidro is a neighborhood in Habana vieja that is right next to my neighborhood. So if I go down from my house and I walk like 500 meters, I to the south, I will reach San Isidro neighborhoods.

So these artists like Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara and other the artists, they live there in San Isidro and they have this movement that is fighting for changing the government. And I not completely agree with them, but I'm agree that they Think different. I'm completely agree with that. So these guys, they get all United in, in the house of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara last year.

Around November and they may doing a strike hunger strike, right? I think it was a hunger strike and they were inside the house. So the government one day, and I was in my house. I remember that day, like if it is right now, 26 November, I see that my internet is cut off. Because that is a practice that the government is using a lot right now, when there is something happening, they cut internet so people can not do life and cannot publish videos. So they cut internet at the moment they cut internet. I said to myself, damn, there’s something happening in San Isidro right now, they enter it to the house by force. And they took all these people out and they told them to the house or to prison or not prison, but to the police station.And I dunno, they just separate them. What I'm not agreed to is that the government used the forces With these people and the government has to learn how to hear these people. So we were like kind of so angry because also they cut it internet, that we went to Ministerio de culture minister the day after 27 November.

And there were around more than 500 Artists outside of the ministerio de cultura, we were asking for a solution, a solution that respect the independent artists, freedom of expression, respect people that think different. That was the main reason that 27 November happened because we don't want the government to use the force.

So we were outside the ministerio de cultura. It was really. I don't know how to say it was beautiful, but it was okay. We were surrounded by so many policemen and these policemen are dressing like a civil guy. They are not dressing in uniform. So it's more afraid because you don't know who is and who is not. You know, and we were all sitting there.

People play music, people are asking for a meeting. So a lot of artists were there asking also for the minister to be there and receive them. But the minister wasn't there and they never received people at the moment. some moment in the night, They open the door and they enter like 20 something people inside. these people were selected, Some of them from San Isidro, some of them from like Tania Bruguera, they did a meeting. And at the end of the meeting, it was like 1:00 AM or 2:00 AM. I don't remember. After the meeting, they promise that we can go back to our house without any problem. They said that they will keep this meeting. I wasn’t in the first meeting. I was outside with the artists, we were feeling like there is something really important happening because it's the first time in the history that something this huge happened. So we were thinking that something was really going to change. So two days later the minister cancel all this meetings With the movimiento san isidro. People fomr the movimiento san isidro said the government canceled the meeting and the government say that they canceled the meeting. four days or five days later, I received a call from la directora del centro nacional de artes plasticas.

Fryda: [00:34:41] so the director of the national center of plastic arts

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:34:46] she called me to meet, I go, I was thinking the worst. I was thinking they were going to, you know, like pull me out from, I don't know, from whatever from the registro de artistas, which I got From one year ago, she asked me to be present in the meeting with the government, with the minister, that there were going to be some artists there and they were going to finally do the meeting.

And I was like, oh wow, it's funny. They call me. I'm not an activista and I'm not the biggest artist in Cuba. So I don't understand too well why they call me, but I was happy with the proposition at that moment because I asked her in this meeting, are we going to be allowed to say anything we want? And she said yes. Yes, definitely. Definitely. I was like, okay, if I have the opportunity to leave in front of the minister and tell him everything is they're doing wrong, I would do it. Definitely. I would take it. So that's what I did. When I get to the meeting. I see that most of the artists that were, were not from Movimiento San Isidro. There were a lot of cameras from the government.

We were not allowed to film or they took out or telephones. So that was already something a little bit strange, right? So the meetings was seven hours, seven hours sitting there. Everyone talking. seven hours. I swear. And all the things that were said inside that meeting were really, really strong things.

Like, can you picture, this is like a real, a little theater inside the ministerio. Where in the table you see, el ministro de cultura, you see the vice minister and you see a Abel Prieto that I don't have idea what position he having in the government.

Fryda: [00:36:32] Abel Prieto is an advisor to Raul Castro.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:36:36] There were these three or four people sitting there from the government and in the theater, in the seats, there were like 20 something or 30 artists or 40 artists.

I don't remember the number. For seven hours, all these artists, they have a turn to speak, and each artists, talk to the ministers. Like for example, we are tired. We are tired of this situation. We are tired of not understanding people that think different. When artists think different, you talk bad about him on the TV.

We are tired that you put police people outside their houses too. Don't let them go out. We are tired of using the force. We are tired that you cut internet every time you do something like illegal, you know, because it's illegal. So all the things were said, and they listen, that's true. But when I went out from there, I found out that that was not a dialogue because they didn't answer it at all.

When we go out, I find out that they were selling this meeting On the press, on the national press, they were putting this meeting as we finally got the meetings with the artists, but only with the artists that doesn't have their art, uh, comprometido, compromised with the US, with imperio. When I go out from there, I found out that you can imagine how many messages I have in my phone and not beautiful messages from people in Facebook that follow my work and everything that were like, what the fuck are you doing there?

Why you went there? And everything for me, I was like. Then I had the opportunity to say all this to the government. And I say it, because I remember the first thing I said to the minister, when I took the mic, and I was like, really, really nervous. The first thing I said to him, where in the constitution is written, that you can put police guys outside the house of the artists or press media, and don't let them go out from the house, that is not written on the constitution.

You cannot do that. That was my first word. So it's funny how they sell these to the rest of the world, the government through the press. And from that day, understood that I cannot be in the middle of the of all that at least not participate, but the minister ministerio call me call me nothing from what we said in that meeting change. nothing.

They keep doing exactly the same. I lost my faith in the ministerio completely. I don't have faith in a ministry that do that. I don't have faith in a government that do these kind of things. I really want my country to change.

Fryda: [00:39:26] So it sounds like you came in, in good faith. And in a sense, you were betrayed, you came into this meeting to represent a lot of the same interests of the larger group of artists that were there at that protest.

But after the meeting, the government went around and said that. You all the independent artists who came to the meeting were not compromised with the US government or with imperium, and the rest of the artists, the ones that were in there, aka movimiento san isidro artists, were were, you were put in a bad position.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:40:03] two of the artists that I paid, the gas for, they have a really contestatary. That is a way I can help. I'm not sure that NFT can help to change the reality in Cuba. For what I'm talking about is about the government. But it's going to help to artists to find their freedom and their independence without dependent or the government that says if you are allowed or not allowed to do something for the people that can hear this, this is really important for Cuban artists.

We are completely separated from the world. Not only because they sea, because we are an island because of socio-political stuff right now, we don't have collectors coming. Everything is closed. This is a way that you can help artists and collect their art. There are amazing artists right now entering the space, the NFT space.

There, there are more than 25 of 30 artists already there. Fabrica de Arte, so what they did is create this project called NFT.FAC FAC because fabrica de arte cubano. So right now if you go to one of the biggest marketplace on NFT and you tap on the NFT.FAC you will find this profile. They launched an open call for artists to subscribe the art. The most important thing is that these artists have never before minted is they have never published an NFT before, and they have no way to do it. So this is a bridge That opened the possibility to Cuban artists to be present in the NFT space, without paying anything And with the background of this amazing place. And we are publishing them one artist per week, and now they are allowed to be collected by other people in the world. Please support this kind of work, this kind of a project. This is a way of helping Cuban artists. It's also a way to collect beautiful art, have it in your house, even if it's digital art, some of them you can print it and you can have it in your house.

This kind of markets are also closed markets. You know, they move inside a real Small group that has all the power, all the power. And yeah, I'm telling you this because I'm living it. I,

Carmen: [00:42:38] yeah, of course.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:42:39] Uh, yeah, I'm doing my best. I'm doing my best.

Carmen: [00:42:43] You're doing amazing.

Fryda: [00:42:47] We usually wrap up the podcast with un cubanismo, which is un dicho Cubano.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:42:53] in Cuba. We said, el que no tiene de congo tiene de carabali This is beautiful. It's because our roots come from Africa and are mix it with the aborigenal and the Spanish. But in Cuba, we know everyone has something that come from Africa. So that's why he said Congo, you know, Congo in Africa, at least you have the carabali. Carabali is another ethnia that arrived to Cuba from Africa.

Carmen: [00:43:26] Thank you so much for speaking with us today, we had a wonderful time with you, Gabriel really got ready and we hope to continue this beautiful friendship and continue talking more about Cuban art and Cuba and its future..

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:43:41] Thank you so much, this is just the beginning

Fryda: [00:43:44] Carmen, it was so interesting to get insight Straight from the island from an artist in Cuba who has been using NFTs as a vehicle for not just selling their own art but for building community and spreading the wealth.

Another thing is Gabriel comes from a place of privilege But thankfully he uses that. So he has an iPhone and is able to get on clubhouse. He has more than enough resources and is able to pass the Ethereum forward. It's not necessarily easy for a Cuban, as you can tell, to get into this space, but let's see what, what continues to come of it.

Carmen: [00:44:26] Well, what continues to come of it is that teikirisi is making an NFT. Yes. You heard that, right. We're making an NFT and we are going to put it up for sale on opensea. If you are interested in purchasing or looking at it or sharing about it, So that can reach somebody who is interested in able to purchase, we will post the details on that in the show notes, but what we're doing with the proceeds is joining Gabriel in helping other artist To mint their work and get their work out there. This is one way that you can help Cuban artists.

Fryda: [00:45:01] Kudos to Jesse Pales who is actually drawing like making the art, our graphic designer.

Thank you so, so much to you and to our patrons. Jason, Susan, Sarah, Saliya, Ryan, Peter Lauren, Kristen, Kelis, Kaylee, Karena, Josh, Jose, Jesse, Ivett, Derek, Dee, Daniel, Christine, Catherine, Andy. And Amaury. We love you so so much. You're amazing. If you'd like to reach us on social media, we are at teikirisipod to email us.We are take it easy

Carmen: [00:45:40] please buy our NFT. Please support Cuban artists. We love you. Okay. Take it easy.

Gabriel Bianchini: [00:45:45] take it easy my friends

Fryda: [00:45:46] yeah buy it buy it buy it buy it sold, sold, sold, take it easy folks.

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