Digital art project honouring Louis Riel with 100 unique portraits

“My people will sleep for one hundred years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”

While Louis Riel’s predictions likely did not include non-fungible tokens (NFTs), it is interesting to ponder whether he would have been in favour of a decentralized digital currency. Riel’s rendering in this digital format celebrates and honours his legacy – but also raises controversial questions.

Each 100Louis portrait is unique, and ownership includes all intellectual property/reproduction rights for that particular NFT. These NFTs are listed on OpenSea, a global marketplace where they can be purchased for Ether, a digital cryptocurrency. 

Counter to typical representations, Riel is depicted anachronistically in a range of modern settings, with a range of modern traits. This aesthetic makes him accessible, reminding us of his timeless work and words, and calling to question how much or how little progress has been made on Indigenous rights in Canada. The variance in appearance reflects the variance of attitudes, beliefs and experience across the Metis diaspora. Further, this approach elicits questions about the mutability of our icons, and the ways in which we must – or mustn’t – adapt them to ever-changing social paradigms. Lastly, the repetitive nature of this project – 100 unique portraits sharing the same format – also reflects the rapid growth of the Metis population in recent decades.

These portraits can be purchased as Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) at https://opensea.io/collection/100louis , or as 1/1 prints.