On September 26th, 2023, at the Canvas 3.0 retail and event space in the heart of the Oculus building in New York City’s financial district, Meta Betties, a new Web3 project created by Blakelee and Jason Pieroni, will invite and inspire seasoned and would-be digital art collectors and activists to engage with their new conceptual art collection; a playful bridge to direct action for social justice.
“We’re drawing attention and awareness to various civil conflicts and social injustices,” adds her partner, Jason. “Her physicality manifests in 16 different personas, which are directly connected to specific issues, like climate change, women’s reproductive rights, gun safety, queer rights, Web3 regulation, and so on. It’s really a social advocacy collection.”
Building on 1985’s A Cyborg Manifesto by Donna J. Haraway and taking a page out of Pussy Riot’s potent ethos of overt femme sexuality as an act of protest, Bettie, in all her forms, ask fans, users, and experiencers of all races, ages, and genders to entertain a post-human, post identitarian, even a post corporeal future, while also addressing the trials and tribulations of the intersectional body politic.
Boasting several exhibits and activations since the project’s inception, Blakelee and Jason use IRL events, often featuring actual, on-site human Bettie avatars or models, from “Classic Bettie” to “Cyborg Bettie,” to help guide users through their interface’s built-in channels to engage boldly and immediately with the core issues most important to them.
At the Canvas 3.0 on Sept. 26th, living, breathing Betties will engage in a game of life-size chess as well as navigate and vogue within a giant bird cage in timed performance art pieces that deconstruct the prison-like nature of constrictive femme binaries and the oft-contentious humanist notion of dualism. Simultaneously, users will navigate at least three unique stations at the Canvas 3.0. in a playful “act to earn” crucible, a gamification of the social advocacy portion of the project. Once completed, users will get access to raffles, merch, and other incentives.
Each piece of digital art collectible (NFT is now as passé as mp3 is to audio file) and all future collections or “vintages” will be minted on Ethereum. This will allow members of the Bettie community to continually comment on each new and recurring social area as time goes on.
“We partnered with The Giving Block, an accessible fundraising portal for mission-based initiatives,” notes Jason. “We’ve embedded the crypto wallet addresses of non profits directly into the smart contracts for each Meta Bettie persona so that a portion of each sale is donated to the causes connected to that specific Bettie. We feel like the market has moved away from hype-based PFP collectibles devoid of mission or purpose. In contrast, our collection serves as a satirical social commentary on cultural conflicts, and provides access to tools of advocacy for our holders and on behalf of our cause partners.”
Most enticing, perhaps, for new users as well as crypto naysayers, there is a unique mechanism for action connected via one’s specific geographic location. Purchases of any Meta Betties provide access to a token-gated community platform that links users directly to local senators and house representatives connected to each issue. Holders can seamlessly send a pre-written advocacy statement connected to that specific Bettie to their representatives, or riff and send their own messages, lightspeed, straight to Congress.
“We’re interested in people who are familiar with Web3 collections, but not the flippers,” says Jason, now looking to pull initiatives like his and Blakelee’s out of Web3’s “Trough of Disillusionment,” as they call it. “It’s not about the hype anymore. We have a greater responsibility now. Give me a collection that has rad art, but a meaningful mission behind it.”
“With Bettie in Web3, we have an opportunity to see her physicality disappear,” says Blakelee, making space for users who appreciate virtual and digital spaces as a means to either lean into or fade out of their IRL bodies. However, they manifest or identify on Planet Earth. Both approaches are valid. “What does postmodern feminism look like if we see her form and then the form disappears? I can’t get out of my flesh. With Web3, we won’t need that after a while.”