Street art comes in many forms, but none are nearly as explosive as the work of Alexandre Farto, aka Vhils. The Portuguese visual artist has captivated art enthusiasts around the world over the last 15 years with his unique techniques. Instead of adding paint or Wheatpaste posters to urban edifices, Vhils opts to subtract from the buildings themselves. For years, he’s been using everything from scalpels and chisels to drills, jackhammers, and even explosives to tear away at crumbling walls, revealing realistically etched faces of locals and often marginalized people.
His latest project, called The End of the Industrial Era, explores the dilapidated buildings of Barreiro, a massive rust-belt area in Portugal where Vhils was born and raised. Once again, the artist uses explosives to instantaneously reveal the face of a local person. The image, which is based on an archived photo of a local factory worker, flashes in a split-second, quickly followed by the demolition of the entire structure it appears on.
This whole unveiling and undoing took place within about two seconds, but Vhils was able to capture it all from multiple angles with the use of a lens of a ballistic camera that films at 2,000 frames per second. Through video, Vhils is able to immortalize his impermanent work. And now he’s eternalizing his ephemeral art further with NFTs. The explosion and implosion video will be released by Nifty Gateway—a digital art auction platform for non-fungible tokens that began a partnership with the auction house Sotheby’s—on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. It will include one open edition and three limited editions.
In addition to the Rust Belt video, there were be several Detritus NFTs featuring stone fragments from the explosion. The debris from the spectacle were “collected, laser and hand carved with several images that represent us all in small fragments as fossils of our life today, testifying the impact that all these transformations have in our suspended life as we all wait for what the future will bring us.” This sale will also include a physical piece given for free.