Between the ghetto and the gallery: Street art NFTs reach the art market

The NFT trend moves mountains – or in the case of Kiwie at least walls. The Latvian street artist dares to contradict and digitizes graffiti art as non-fungible tokens.

NFTs have opened a door. Art, music, digital collectibles, certificates or even tweets: there is hardly anything that cannot be represented in digital token form. Both artists and buyers are part of a broad social experiment that adapts values ​​and appreciation to the requirements and possibilities of a digitized age. Artists like Kiwie, who are the vanguard of the undiscovered NFT sector and hope for an imitation effect among like-minded people, contribute to this.

From the wall to the wallet

He’s been a thorn in the side of building cleaners for a long time: Since 2015, the Latvian street artist Kiwie has been decorating house walls with his “Fat Monster” motifs and has earned a reputation for himself in the art world. The artist now fills galleries single-handedly. At the latest through the graffiti work “Sun, Thunder and Daugava”, which is 800 square meters in size and 1,500 cans of paint and represents the largest Baltic mural of its time, the artist caught up with the street art elite of a Banksy. His monster trademark has made it to over 1,000 walls and walls.

Until now it was impossible to take one of these “fat monsters” home without a hammer and crowbar. But if you don’t want to leave it with a photo, you will soon have the opportunity to acquire a piece of street art history. From April 13th, Kiwie will be selling the monster motifs in token form via the Rarible NFT marketplace.

A total of 1,001 street art pictures are included in this Mammoth project first digitized and then minted as NFT. In return, the buyers receive a trading card on which the information and ownership rights are saved and can henceforth scold themselves as the owner of the corresponding pictures. Every month, 5 NFTs should come under the virtual hammer.

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Street art NFT between ghetto and gallery

In the event that the “real” motifs fall victim to rioters or renovation work, the NFT switches to a “ghost version”. The “ghost version” is identical to the previous one, except that the NFT no longer represents an existing template. The short life of the images can be immortalized via blockchain in NFT form.

This shows the contradiction that Kiwie is trying to resolve with his series. Because street art, as an expression of an underground culture, is unsalable, subversive and is stylized as a pictorial, ironic commentary on the art world. Hardly any sub-genre is so alien to the market as graffiti art – and makes it correspondingly difficult for artists to make a living from their works.

It is questionable whether the tokens will pay off for buyers. But projects like the one from Kiwie are about more than just returns. The overall goal is fair compensation for “faceless” artists who do not have a lobby. The approach that Kiwie is now pursuing “in search of new ideas” may therefore come as a surprise, but at the same time corresponds to the ethos to which the guerrilla artists have subscribed: wealth distribution instead of wealth.

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