The Underground Sistine Chapel: encounter between painting, film and NFT


A documentary financed in an original way by private individuals tells the story of the creation of a modern Sistine Chapel.

By Nils Baudoin.

The title of the film The Underground Sistine Chapel is also the title of the monumental fresco by the French artist Pascal Boyart. This work, strongly inspired by the frescoes of Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican, mixes fidelity to the original and reinterpretation in an approach well shared in the film. It is painted entirely with a brush, with acrylic paint, covering an area of ​​100 m² on three adjacent walls and rising to 8 meters high.

Note that despite the film’s English title, it was shot in French.

A major difference with Michelangelo’s ceiling is the location. The walls used are those of a former gold foundry in the Paris region. The location and exact status of this large building will remain deliberately vague in the documentary to preserve its tranquility.

It has its inhabitants, its workshops, its activities as photo studios or as a location for filming music videos. This place and its inhabitants become an element of both the fresco and the documentary.

Pascal Boyart became known for his frescoes, especially in Paris, which included a QR code made with a stencil to get paid in bitcoin. This method of financing was a success beyond his expectations. Crypto-assets have been an important source of inspiration for him in recent years as evidenced by the works presented at the Bitcoin Art (r) evolution exhibition in 2018.

Beyond the discovery behind the scenes of this artistic work, the film seeks to make people think about artistic practice through the interventions of Pascal Boyart, the sculptor Yom de Saint Phalle but also those of the inhabitants of the place. The narration is masterfully carried out by Enrique, a former resident of the place, recruited at random from a meeting at the end of the shooting.

Throughout the film, the artist’s face is blurred or kept out of frame, probably in an effort to focus attention on the work more than on the artist.

The documentary is co-directed by the two young and talented filmmakers Yohann Grignou and Antoine Breuil who did an excellent job of directing. Their cooperative Samouraï Coop explores new modes of organization and financing, as we will talk about later. Note also the original music of the film which brings a lot to the atmosphere.

The methods of financing the fresco and the film are very similar, both are based on sponsorship and the sale of NFT, these famous non-fungible tokens similar to both a certificate of authenticity and a collector’s item. They allow here to prove in a decentralized way its financial contribution.

The fresco The Underground Sistine Chapel was therefore funded in two stages.

First, through sponsorship at four levels of participation from $ 200 to $ 7,000. Among the patrons, we find the pseudonymous collector of NFT WhaleShark, the investor Alistair Milne, the association Le Cercle du Coin but also anonymous individuals. This raised $ 20,000 from 12 contributors. Once the work was done, Pascal Boyart created 404 NFTs in a unique edition, corresponding to the characters in the fresco and sold them for the price of 1 Ether, the currency of the Ethereum protocol, i.e. around 1,500 euros .

Previous frescoes by Pascal Boyart had already been tokenized via this NFT mechanism and it is undoubtedly the beginnings of a mode of financing which has a great future.

NFTs were also made from the film for its financing and this is what allows it to be accessible for free on Youtube and the decentralized platform IPFS.

The trailer and the film can be found on the dedicated site TheChapel.art





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