A Retrospective of Historic NFTs 2011-2019

Where is our identity rooted when technology and innovation travel at the speed of light? 

But more importantly, how do we trace and understand our belonging to a collectivity as individuals? How is the collective identity of the digital age born and built? How does it exist and evolve as one? 

The acronym “NFT” has been increasingly on everyone’s lips; the Web 3 ethos is discussed more and more. New innovations are declared constantly. But how did we get here? How was the NFT space conceived and gradually shaped? What is the identity of the NFT community? 

To understand our future, we must know our past. 

Knowledge around the NFT space has been restricted mostly to the dimension of transactions. The blockchain holds an untouchable, incorruptible, and immutable timestamp, but its information is limited to a transaction from A to B. 

Now imagine a shapeless, undefined, fluid, multi-dimensional space, built on a net with different layers of connections, where every single story or action of an individual influences the community and its collective history.  

The First HNFT Fest aims to articulate and visualize the unseen connections, the stories behind a single transaction and the people — the creators, the coders, the intellectuals — the circumstances, the triggers that created the innovations, platforms, and creative experiments that inspired a ripple effect in the early builders of the community and future ones. Only by mapping out the co-existing dimensions and layers will we be able to understand where our influences came from, who they inspired, how things were unveiled and what they led to. Only by making those relations visible can we understand their cultural impact and how they guide innovation forward. 

The Exhibition


For The Past of the Future, we started by combining existing historical NFT timelines that were carefully created by NFT historians and researchers, such as Martin Lukas Ostachowski, White Rabbi, Leonidas, and Blackstar. While following the spirit of Web3 and decentralization, we also experimented with a new way of writing history and used a distributed documentation effort, both transparent and collaborative, to collectively examine the “neural network” of the history of NFTs. We did it through public discussions online and by asking the entire community to participate with their memories: their most precious contributions. People shared their memorabilia of moments, events, encounters, meetings, dinners, art shows, messages and emails, ideas, discussions, projects, and visions. They are exhibited here today, giving life to this mixed-media retrospective.  

Walls have always been seen as meaningful and symbolic architectural elements: they can be a source of imprisonment and divisions; or structures that protect and represent a place of shelter, and a sense of belonging. 

The walls of the Reial Cercle Artistic are ancient and beautiful. For the HNFT community, they represent the walls that have been built for years, meticulously, and thoughtfully, through experimentation and freedom of expression: solid, independent, aesthetically delightful. 

This exhibition is not only a historic but an artistic gesture, a way to discover the treasures behind these walls. 

We should know the past to understand the future. Only by knowing what is hidden from sight can we understand what we can see. We should know how foundations are laid in order to keep building. 

The path of the exhibition starts at the chapel with an installation by the DADA Collective, a sacred place where our most priceless belongings find their escape, flooding the space with energy, gushing from holy surfaces: feelings, the remembrance of what has been, and our hopes for what is yet to come.   

The show continues through the years in reverse until it reaches the deepest core of the crypto art and NFT movement and innovation in the underground rooms. 

By seeing it from the vantage point of today, everything makes sense. Now you know why every image, statement, and pixel is there. And more meaningfully, now you know why you are here. 


Eleonora Brizi