Home » NFT » Backlash to ‘Woke’ Artwork Unravels New CryptoPunks NFT Collection

Backlash to ‘Woke’ Artwork Unravels New CryptoPunks NFT Collection

Yuga Labs revealed Nina Chanel Abney’s Super Punks World NFT collection on Monday, but after backlash, they will “no longer touch” CryptoPunks. CryptoPunks is one of the most iconic and influential profile picture (PFP) collections in the NFT world. Yuga Labs has been trying to expand its presence in the art world by allowing notable artists to reimagine the CryptoPunks IP with an official Punks stamp.

Nina Chanel Abney's Super Punks World NFT artwork.
Source: https://decrypt.co/

Key Takeaways

  1. Controversy Unravels Yuga Labs’ New NFT Collection:
  2. Backlash Sparks Pivot from CryptoPunks:
  3. Abney’s Vision Disrupted by Social Media Attacks:
  4. The intersection of Art, Tech, and Culture:

However, the first effort faced immediate backlash from collectors and crypto observers. Critics claimed the artwork was “woke” and launched personal attacks on the artist. As a result, Yuga Labs is pivoting and abandoning plans.

Artist Nina Chanel Abney was the inaugural selection for the Punk in Residence program. Over the weekend, she unveiled her new collection, “Super Punk World.” Following an opening event at The School at the Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, Yuga Labs and Abney revealed the planned NFTs on Monday.

The Punk in Residence program aimed to foster creative experimentation around the project and NFTs broadly. Abney’s limited-series digital collectibles incorporate her bold style and perspective, reimagining the iconic CryptoPunk traits through her vision.

Despite this, the new Punks-branded NFT collection faced backlash. Claims of “woke” artwork, sometimes accompanied by personal attacks, led Yuga to reconsider plans.

Abney’s “Super Punk World” collection, revealed over the weekend, featured 500 avatars. Abney hand-selected each avatar from over 10,000 outputs. She drew inspiration from iconic CryptoPunks traits and her previous “Super Cool World” attributes.

Abney hand-cut each trait and digitized them to create 195 unique 3D-sculpted attributes based on 25 personas. She set these characters against colorful backgrounds inspired by her previous works and printmaking techniques. They embody her aesthetic and pay homage to the irreverent, early Web3 roots of the CryptoPunks project.

Collaboration with CryptoPunks and Controversy

Abney saw collaborating with CryptoPunks as an opportunity to be at the intersection of art, technology, and culture. She aimed to introduce wallets, generative art, Web3, and NFTs to a more traditional art crowd.

However, after the collection’s reveal, the project received substantial backlash across social media. Critics targeted the art style and the concept of reimagining an iconic project. Others levied “woke” accusations due to its emphasis on race and gender, igniting debates about art, identity, and digital culture.

Yuga Labs initially declined to comment, but CEO Greg “Garga” Solano tweeted a statement later. The NFTs initially planned for auction, will now be distributed to Super Cool World NFT holders, potentially through a “randomized airdrop.”

There will be no follow-up artist residency initiative in this same fashion. “Yuga will no longer touch Punks,” Solano wrote. In a tweet, Abney confirmed Solano’s statement and expressed gratitude to Yuga Labs for supporting her art and distributing her pieces to holders. She also condemned the hateful attacks sent her way on social media.

Abney’s digital worldview explores the differences between virtual and real-world identities. She addresses pricing disparities between digital avatars based on gender and skin tone. Her hybridized figures blur the lines between masculine and feminine. This challenges societal notions of inherent value and pushes viewers to confront their implicit biases.

May 22, 2024 at 2:00 am

Updated May 22, 2024 at 2:00 am


Remember, investing in cryptocurrencies involves risks, and it’s important to conduct thorough research and seek professional advice before making any financial decisions. (Please keep in mind that this post is solely for informative purposes and should not be construed as financial or investment advice.)


'Super Punks World' is an NFT collection by artist Nina Chanel Abney, created as part of Yuga Labs' Punk in Residence program. It features bold, reimagined avatars inspired by CryptoPunks.

The backlash arose due to critics labeling the artwork as "woke" and attacking the artist on social media, prompting Yuga Labs to abandon future plans for CryptoPunks-related projects.

Yuga Labs decided to pivot away from their plans to collaborate further on CryptoPunks. The NFTs will be distributed to existing Super Cool World NFT holders rather than being auctioned.

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