Climbing the steps to the top floor of the Old Truman Brewery on London’s Brick Lane, visitors to Moniker Art Fair are handed a chalk pen and invited to leave their own mark on the wall. This is how you know you’re at a street art fair in Shoreditch, and not a white tent in one of London’s royal parks.
This year, Moniker has already reported record-breaking sales figures, with around £300,000 worth of art changing hands yesterday during its preview. “It’s proof that the scene has built its own cult following,” explained director Tina Ziegler, who took over the fair last year. “[Buyers] are unafraid to invest in the scene, largely from the confidence that’s steadily built in urban and new contemporary art.”
In its eighth edition, under Ziegler’s steady directorship, Moniker has tripled in size, taking over the 30,000-square-foot top floor of the brewery and reclaiming dominance from competitor The Other Art Fair. This year, with more than double the number of exhibitors—45 to last year’s 20—Moniker is positioning itself as the world’s largest urban art fair.
“The urban art market is definitely the fastest-growing contemporary art market that we see, both in audience and engagement, but also just looking at the sales over the past decade,” Ziegler told artnet News.
Industry stars like Banksy, Sterling Ruby, and Shepard Fairey have transformed the movement into an incredible source of value for top collectors, and street art is also wildly popular with the public—Banksy’s Girl With Balloon stencil recently surpassed John Constable’s 1821 landscape, The Hay Wain, as the UK’s most beloved artwork.
This year, the fair’s specially curated section, Transient Tales, opens with a large-scale railway track installation by American documentary photographer and filmmaker Bill Daniel, onto which visitors must climb to access a tunnel leading into the fair—a reminder of the origins of the street art movement in coded exchanges between hobos on the sides of freight trains in America’s post-Depression years, long before Jean-Michel Basquiat ever picked up a can of spray paint.
The theme continues on the other side, with site-specific and solo installations by Labrona, Tim Conlon (aka CON), Alex Fakso, Ian Kual’li, and a loveable cardboard monkey sculpture by Canadian artist Laurence Valieres. Read more