The Toronto Comic Arts Festival is one of the most prestigious events for artists in Canada, and it is also one of the largest festivals in the world dedicated to the appreciation and promotion of comics – and only of comics. But TCAF is at the center of a storm of controversy after it was announced that NFT artist Pink Cat, also known as Saba Moeel, would be one of the festival’s featured guests. On Tuesday, TCAF announced that they were not inviting Moeel and clarified the original intentions behind his invitation.
Pink Cat’s guest star status immediately raised eyebrows in the artist community. A comic book fest spotlighting an artist who primarily deals with NFTs is unusual to begin with. Many in the arts community saw NFTs as an attack on their profession when they became a trend. As time has passed and expensive monkeys have been snatched from their owners’ accounts, the technical and ethical issues with these tokens have become increasingly clear.
Controversy surrounding Moeel escalated when social media users scoured his online history to find a history of tracing works of art, tweets disparaging community artists, appropriating black culture for profitand transphobic talk. Polygon reached out to Moeel for comment via Twitter; she replied with the following message.
Yeah these guys invited me to uninvite. They paid the hotel for the flight etc. I didn’t even know who they were. Very strange
It’s not my world, I’m a real life artist, I don’t care about organizations or trade shows, I have my own, it’s not a cult, it’s mainstream. LA days called me Gen Z Garfield, we’re not in the same league.
The backlash against Moeel’s invitation to FASD continued well into Memorial Day. On Monday, the festival’s official account tweeted: ‘The TCAF executive and organizers have heard your valid concerns and we are working on a statement. Thank you for your patience while we prepare a response. On Tuesday, this statement was released. It reads in part:
TCAF initially extended a programming invitation to Moeel based on their daily work of digital comics on Instagram and how personally important that work was to one of our team members. At the time of this invitation, the organization was not aware of Moeel’s online conduct, plagiarism or tracing allegations. We apologize for the scheduling and promotion of this artist.
We made a mistake. As a promise to our community, we will use this as a teachable moment as we move forward as an organization, and re-examine the checks and balances we currently use to process our programming decisions.
The statement further clarifies that no member of the board has any financial ties to Moeel, such as purchasing any of its NFTs. The statement concludes: “We are very proud of the roster of artists and exhibitors we have assembled for this year’s festival, and we sincerely hope that this error on our part will not overshadow the hard work of our team. , our other guests and our exhibitors.