Ryder Ripps Bored Ape Yacht Club -- Theft or Conceptual Fine Art?
Allegedly, BAYC NFT Apes were made to signify two things: white supremacy, and that rare traits in digital art were the barometer for social, cultural and financial value. Then Ryder Ripps found out.
Soon. The market will figure it out soon enough.
The call went out around the interwebnets around the end of last year.
Ryder Ripps, son of Rodney Ripps, accomplice of Andy Warhol and subject of some of Warhol’s famous Polaroid snaps, had figured out something that seemed unfortunate and glaringly obvious. The infamous Bored Ape Yacht Club apes were created to be fascist dog whistles for white supremacist culture.
And Ryder was going to put a stop to it. And along the way, probably reinvigorate the conceptual art movement.
I will show you how Ryder Ripps transformed the metaverse jpegs of monkeys from comic lampoons of ethnicity into fine art. And why these are the apes you will want to own, if you are a serious art enthusiast or collector.
I will show you:
a. why the apes are allegedly dog whistles for white supremacist culture
b. why the apes were created to use game mechanics to make traits into value / wealth vectors
c. why RR-BAYC apes are not instruments of hegemony but re-contextualised art objects stripped, literally, of their racist metadata and presented only as objets d’art that are valuable for their historical significance rather than their elitist positioning.
Here’s one of the higher ranked apes — an ape designed to look like a kamikaze pilot from world war 2.
The visual elements are striking, and to the scrutinising, discerning, contextualised viewer, even racist.
Are we not supposed to think a Japanese ape, shorter in stature than the other apes, and wearing the Imperial sun emblem is meant to represent something other than a suicide pilot borrowing heavily from that era’s tropes?
Look at the #3119 ape wearing a Prussian helmet. It goes for 444 ETH, or nearly 790,000 USD at press time.
And look at the metadata
The metadata tells the story plainly: “army green” background; “Prussian helmet”; “prison jumpsuit”.
Why all of these things? On their own they look like a fun gaming of rare traits that help solidify the ape’s value, but that is ignoring the wider context of history and also the semiotic delivery of the “brand” of the original Yuga Labs BAYC.
If one is to look at the logo of the BAYC itself, it is quite possibly, allegedly modelled after white supremacist and Nazi imagery.
From the site gordongoner.com, a site that is put together by Ryder, who began researching this late last year:
All of these visual elements, and their portrayal in highly tradeable and super expensive Jpegs minted in the greater fool game mechanics of the crypto ecosystem, work together to make BAYC a manipulation of art, rather than art.
As objects, they abuse the collective premise of a visual culture — that through pleasure and observation paired with history and context one can derive a story of where society is coming from and where it is headed.
There is no fine art intentionality to the original metadata-geared apes. They are blatantly designed to be ranked, to focus on hegemonic ideas of value, and be manipulated as icons for social status and trolling of other races. Add the white supremacist dog whistling and what you are really looking at is a class AAA trolling of western civilisation.
On the other hand, Ryder Ripps’ apes are designed to strip away this gaming mechanism by not only literally strip away the traits, but also making it so the context gets re-contexualised around things like provenance, conceptual art history and storytelling.
This is Ryder Ape #902, which I bought when they were listed some time before May 25.
Visually, it is the same as the “original” BAYC #902, but the metadata tell a different story.
The metadata contain no traits, literally stripping them away. It’s impossible to filter them by traits, and in doing so, the intentions of the collector have to focus on research. They have to focus on source and significance.
The smart contract itself bears this out.
You will find no mention of traits anywhere in the documentation and when the object appears in an NFT platform, the only relevant tag you will see is provenance.
This puts RR-BAYC material on the same wavelength of digital art, and physical fine art of any school. Source and significance.
What story does it tell? What stories do the art emerge from? What stories and history do they help us to express? That is the way of art!
In summary, it means that value of Ryder BAYC apes accrues through searching through the social appearances of the apes, and by reading up on their context and position within cultural history, as well as their relevance within the ethos of conceptual art.
In doing so, this changes their narrative from a game of race theory trolling into a narrative of historical significance.
It remains to be seen if Ryder Ripps has completely transmogrified the apes and rescued them from the greed-focused and dog whistling of fascist culture.
Time will tell. And that is the way.