ARTXV: The First-Ever NFT Collective For Neurodivergent Artists
Ava Halvai is one protective sister. During last year’s lockdown, the British-Iranian computer science student decided to help her autistic, non-verbal sister Tara break into the art world. The result inspired something extraordinary: the launch of ARTXV, the first-ever NFT (a completely unique virtual asset) collective for neurodivergent artists where neurodiversity is readily included and championed.
“Tara can’t really advocate for herself,” Halvai explains. “When I tried, the reaction was that people loved the art but stepped back when they found out she was autistic. I wanted to change that.” And so she began ARTXV as a simple Instagram page – and now promotes 16 neurodivergent artists. “They all had the exact same experience as my sister. I think people will be shocked by how conservative and archaic the art world really is.”
The NFT aspect of the collective means it is democratic and inclusive. “It gives you the ability to just go online, form connections… You don’t have to break into the elite circles of the art world in ways that are often impossible for neurodivergent people,” she says. “NFTs are a kind of counterculture, where they’re rejecting these old systems.” The collective’s first ‘drop’ happened last month and Halvai has also secured a partnership with Google Arts and Culture – the first art collective of its kind to do so.
Yet Halvai’s ambitions extend beyond NFTs. Her desire is to create neurodiverse-friendly studio spaces for her artists and open the world of fine art to the possibility and credibility of neurodivergent artists. When she initially established her collective, Halvai was told to make it a charity. She rejected the premise. “Neurodivergence is power, and it is a misunderstood one,” she says. “These aren’t people who need charity. These are artists who need the world to see their art.”
Marie-Claire Chappet is a London-based arts and culture journalist and contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar