Joelle McTigue

Joelle McTigue is an artist exploring the Mediterranean. On top, she's on a mission to make it easier for people to discover art beyond museums through her blog.

Crypto Mermaids


Crypto Mermaids


Dec 5, 2023

Joelle McTigue

Can you tell us about the project you're currently working on? What inspired you to make it, how are you making it, what do you hope it achieves?

My work explores cultural transformation through the lens of control and cooperation. The pieces are created by mathematically ripping apart a source image and restructuring it to symbolize the grand shifts in power throughout history.

The series, The Mediterranean Botanicals Collection: Bay Of Kotor, examines the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro landscape—a diverse botanical melting pot of its past. Over centuries, great European empires battled for possession in pursuit of land, trade, legacy, medicine, religion, and aesthetics. Mariners returned to the bay from conquests and trading networks with seeds and plantlings that grew into a botanic sundry dotting the steep slopes of the UNESCO-protected site.

Each work was created from a singular photograph of a botanical within the Bay of Kotor. The final pieces of the series were made during the inaugural LOOP Art Critique, a metaverse-based studio critique group.

At a precarious time in our history, as modern movements position themselves for power, I hope my works spark a conversation about how easily perspective and expectations shift. Currently on display in my Metaverse studio is a recreation of the Mediterranean Sea. The chosen installation pieces reference the Greek and Roman history of the Bay of Kotor and how the Orlendar and Carnation flowers first arrived.

Over the next year, I will continue exploring the empires that once ruled Europe using AI and historical source materials. Its purpose is to illustrate historical moments without photographic evidence. The work will be a part of my artist-in-residence at LOOP, Ariel Baron-Robbins’ project at MUD Foundation for The Media Under Dystopia WISPer Edition: A Public XR Metaverse.

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The Control and Cooperation series was the first time I began to alter my photography. While traveling in Europe, I was inspired by the history of public spaces to start thinking about my photography in a new way. I was also influenced by Eames’ short film Powers of Ten, which helped me to conceptualise how I wanted to represent our perpetually changing relationship with our landscapes and spaces.

My favourite piece from this series is Placa De Les Escoles Pies. Gandia, Spain. It is an altered street photograph of a Catholic street procession during the last days of Lent in Gandia, a city within the Valencia region. From a distance, the work appears to be an aerial botanical garden. However, up close, the viewer can see the documentary remnants of the original photograph.

During the last days of Lent, Roman Catholic clergy and penitents commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus with a procession of religious statues, a giant cross, and colored hoods and robes. The colors represent their brotherhood affiliation, while the hoods allow the person to repent privately.

The public ritual march travels down Carrer de Sant Francesc de Borja outside the doors of Real Colegio Escuelas Pías. The event and the brotherhoods date back to the 14th century, and many of the traditions retain their medieval understanding of spiritual hopes and biblical interpretations.

The public square is named for its accompanying school, founded by Francis de Borja, who renounced his Duke of Gania title to live a simple life as a Jesuit (Society of Jesus) monk. He is the great-great-grandson of Alfonso de Borja, who became Pope Callixtus III and began the prominence of the Borja family.

Los Borja Ducal Palace is a quarter-mile from the public square, and the residence played a vital role in the Italian Renaissance, the unification of the Kingdoms of Aragon and Castile (Ferdinand and Isabella), and the Catholic Church.

Alfonso’s nephew Rodrigo became Pope Alexander VI. His great-nephew Cesare became Captain-General of the church's armies and inspired Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince. His great-niece was suspected of murder.

NFT Magazine has teamed up with the Crypto Mermaids to help more people understand and celebrate cryptoart. We find there is often a technical or cultural barrier to more people appreciating your work.

What do you wish more people understood about Metaverse that would help your work be properly celebrated?

The Metaverse can break down boundaries and expand discovery. Its three-dimensional nature allows artists to provide more context to their work and create an immersive experience for the viewer. My MUDverse studio, for example, evokes the spirit of the Mediterranean Sea. The boat, statues, and vases from the same era that the botanicals arrived in the Bay of Kotor help establish a sense of time and place.

Tell us about what your creative practice looks like. When do you work, where do you feel inspired etc.?

My practice revolves around asking, “Why?” The question that annoyed my earliest teachers is a part of my nature and naturally a part of my practice. Such a simple question can drive a rabbit hole of exploration.

While I gain a lot of inspiration from my travels, I dedicate chunks of time to being in my studio. For the past several months, I’ve been digging into volumes of research and sketching out pieces for a new series, The Evliya Çelebi’s Travelogues.

Çelebi was a 17th-century Ottoman traveler who wrote a ten-volume travelogue, Seyahatnâme. I came across his writings in my research about the Bay of Kotor. The volumes chronicle his travels throughout the Ottoman Empire (including the bay) and beyond.

I am using AI to recreate passages from his travels as the source material. My video,  Red Apple, Seyahatnâme. Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, 1630s., reinterprets Çelebi’s writing on Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s first imperial mosque.

“an image of Mother Meryem (the Virgin Mary), holding in her hand a carbuncle as big as a pigeons egg, by the blaze of which the mosque was lighted every night. This carbuncle was also removed in the birthnight of the Prophet, to Kizil Almà (Rome), which received its name (Red Apple) from thence.”

‘Red Apple, Seyahatnâme. Constantinople, Ottoman Empire, 1630s.’ Work by Joelle McTigue. Installed at W1 Curates in London. Photo by Adele Lazzeri.

What are your views on "the traditional art world" and how do you relate to it, or not?

The traditional art world is a complicated and multi-layered entity, and I have mixed feelings about it. It is where I met my closest friends and it is an integral part of my life. However, it is also unnecessarily exclusive. Everyone should have access to art.

My way of helping broaden inclusivity is by writing my art travel blog ( I write about art that I find exciting and worth seeing. I hope my writing makes it easier for people to discover art beyond the staple museums.

I also made a free resource for people trying to find out where to discover art. My Find Contemporary Art map (available on my blog) has curated pins of over 600 contemporary art galleries, museums, and fairs on six continents.

What are you doing to endure crypto winter?

I am making art and showing it. Sales have never dictated what I make or driven me, so whether it’s a hot market or not does not affect my studio practice.

My work will be a part of the Silent Video Edition Embassy for Musicians within The Video Edition Pavilion in The Wrong Biennale. The embassy is hosting live collaborative events where musicians improvise to 20-minute silent videos curated by Ebba Jahn.

The first event will take place in London at Vortex Jazz Club on December 17th from 12 to 6 PM. Vortex is a small, not-for-profit club with an innovative jazz, improvised, and experimental music program.

The second event will be held on January 27th at Kühlspot Social Club in Berlin. Kühlspot is a creative music, theater, art, and culture venue. Their music program focuses on improvised music and jazz.

I will also exhibit my work for the third time at NFT NYC’s Artist Community Showcase at the Artists Village next April. Additionally, I regularly show with Artpoint, which organizes immersive digital art exhibitions in Paris.

About the artist

Joelle McTigue is an artist exploring the Mediterranean. Her work encapsulates the idea of historical and cultural shifts by mathematically altering source material.

McTigue received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has exhibited at Photo LA, PhotoIreland, the NFT Biennial, NFT NYC, NFTBerlin, and satellite events during Art Basel Miami Beach, Armory Week, Photo London, and NFT London. Her digital works are available on the Ethereum blockchain, and she is represented by Artpoint in Paris.

A Top Art Blogs to Follow in 2023, McTigue’s blog covers art travel, focusing on contemporary art exhibitions, galleries, museums, and fairs worth traveling to. Born in New York and raised in the Caribbean, McTigue lives and works in Montenegro.

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