Led by two ISP Alums, Ileana and William Lobkowicz, (Class of 2015 and 2013), Non-Fungible Castle 2022 was a spectacular series of events, bridging art with blockchain technology in a one-of-a-kind exhibition, interactive cultural experience, and international conference. Non-Fungible Castle was hosted from October 27 – November 13, 2022, at both the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle and the Nelahozeves Castle. Check out this short film that highlights the event.
Guided by the underlying philosophy by Jan Viktor Mládek, economist, Former Head of the IMF, and Art Collector, that “when a nation’s culture survives, so too does the nation / Přežije-li kultura, přežije národ,” the mission of Non-Fungible Castle is to explore how blockchain technology can be used to rediscover, share, and preserve cultural identity.
“I see preserving culture as preserving the stories that define it. These are the stories that connect us not only to our own personal cultural identities, but also to one another. Storytelling has never been more important for culture today, and combining it with blockchain technology offers a creative and compelling opportunity that never existed before.”Ileana Lobkowicz, Class of 2015
The art exhibition, Non-Fungible Castle 2022: Preserving Culture on The Blockchain, featured over 50 works (some sold in multiple additions) and explored cultural preservation at the junction of blockchain technology and the arts by offering the idea that when a work of art is created and saved on the blockchain, the culture it represents lives on in perpetuity.
The exhibition, hosted at the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague Castle, was free to the public and inspired by the story of world-renowned Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák, who demonstrated an exceptional ability to represent the identity of a culture through art.
Drawing upon Dvořák for inspiration, eminent artists from 17 countries explored their own cultural identities through different forms of artistic expression—preserving and sharing the stories of our collective cultural heritage. Contemporary international artists included Banksy, Daniel Arsham, Zhang Huan, to name a few, along with luminaries from the thriving local art scene, such as Toyen, Mila Fürstová, who designed the cover of Coldplay’s award-winning album Ghost Stories, and former choreographer for Kanye West, Yemi A.D.
Sale proceeds of the works in the exhibition supported a charitable project to renovate the Antonín Dvořák Birth House in Nelahozeves, which will open to the world in spring 2024 as a new museum and international musical heritage site, with dedicated music education courses, workshops, concerts, and community enrichment programs.
Interactive Cultural Experience at Nelahozeves Castle
Interactive Cultural Experience at Nelahozeves Castle was a day of hands-on cultural activities combining new applications of blockchain technology with real-world cultural heritage. This one-of-a-kind experience started with guests boarding a historic train from Prague’s Masaryk train station to travel back in time to the birthplace of Czech composer, Antonín Dvořák, in the village of Nelahozeves, engaging with the sights and sounds that inspired his influential body of work. Once at the castle, activities included discussion panels, folk dancing, virtual reality, meet and greet with robots, and a gamified scavenger hunt. With each activity, guests collected NFTs, authenticating their attendance and participation in the event by recording it in perpetuity on the blockchain.
The Conference was a dynamic forum and educational platform bringing together thought leaders and tastemakers to discuss how the art and crypto worlds can engage with one another to shape the future of blockchain technology and cultural preservation. Speakers included Jonathan Dotan, founding director of Starling Lab, which is using blockchain to preserve the stories of Holocaust survivors in partnership with the USC Shoah Foundation; Artur Sychov, founder & CEO of a cross-platform VR world called Somnium Space; and members of the European Commission who exclusively organized a legal and regulatory panel.
The conference panels included “NFTs Beyond the JPEG,” “The Future of Web3 Governance & Innovation in Europe”, and the Czech premiere of the world’s most in-demand celebrity robot, Sophia, from Hanson Robotics, and more!
All conference panels were live-streamed and can be viewed here for anyone interested.
The weekend culminated with a gala dinner to celebrate the gathering of a diverse group with a common interest in the relationship between culture and blockchain. Some guests also had the opportunity to do an “Art and Wine-Tasting Tour,” pairing wines with different pieces of art from the Lobkowicz Collections.
“Blockchain’s decentralized and immutable qualities make it a powerful preservation tool for culture. This is especially important for at-risk cultures that are threatened or misrepresented. We can use blockchain as a means to share, celebrate, and support these cultures, to ensure that they don’t disappear and that they are authentically portrayed.”William Rudolf Lobkowicz, Class of 2013
To learn more about Non-Fungible Castle, please visit the website.