Street culture convention Culture Cartel grows bigger in its fourth edition

American pop artist Matt Gondek is in Singapore to attend street culture convention Culture Cartel. PHOTO: CULTURE CARTEL 2022

Singapore – Street culture convention Culture Cartel is back and the organisers expect a bigger crowd of 20,000 compared with previous years.

To accommodate them, the convention will be held on three floors at *Scape Singapore in Orchard Road, with an area of more than 63,000 sq ft. In 2019, it took 15,000 sq ft at the F1 Pit Building.

Mr Jeremy Tan, Culture Cartel’s convention director, says that in 2018 and 2019, the event attracted 16,000 and 18,000 visitors respectively.

He declined to give specific numbers, but says the convention has achieved “seven-figure sales”.

There will be around 200 brands, designers, artists and creatives participating in this fourth edition from Thursday to Sunday. They include Ox Street, Paradise Youth Club and MightyJaxx; artists such as Matt Gondek and Benzilla; and tattoo artists like HeeyaJenny. 

Mr Tan says: “For us, street culture exists as part of the different culture in our world today. For example, under riding sports culture, BMX (bicycles) and skateboarding would be considered street; for modern pop art culture, graffiti and toy figurines are considered street.”

A highlight of the convention will be the appearance of American pop artist Gondek, best known for deconstructing popular cartoon characters. 

Describing his approach to art, he tells The Straits Times over e-mail: “Deconstructive Pop is punk rock: the anti-conformity, anti-authority, tearing down the gods kind of attitude. So, to me, Deconstructive Pop Art is me destroying the current-day gods.”

Gondek will talk about his artworks on Saturday, including his Spiked Baseball Bat series of sculptures, which was also offered alternatively as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs are digital files that exist on a blockchain and can be traded, usually with cryptocurrency.

“My aim was to create a project that would educate my audience on the benefits of NFTs by rewarding them with something they’re familiar with collecting – physical items. Of all the NFTs sold, I would say that 70 per cent chose to (destroy) the NFT and obtain the physical item,” he adds.

NFTs will be a new content pillar for Culture Cartel in 2022. The other pillars include art, fashion, tattoos, toys and music.

Participating this year as well is ARC, a community of creators that is also an NFT brand. It was founded by Mr Kiat Lim, Mr Elroy Cheo and singer-songwriter JJ Lin.

“ARC is actively looking to build a diverse community of members across Asia, with creatives being one of our key segments,” says Mr Cheo. He will be part of a panel talk on borderless communities titled How Web3 Can Be The Great Equaliser on Saturday.

Culture Cartel’s Mr Tan believes NFTs are here to stay. “Graffiti, which is a form of street art, was frowned upon at the beginning, but look at how it has been accepted and celebrated as part of our culture.”

What: Culture Cartel 2022

Where: *Scape Singapore, 2 Orchard Link
When: Thursday, 1 to 10pm; Friday to Sunday, 11am to 10pm
Admission: Tickets are priced at $25 a day, available until Wednesday via Shopback App and Tickets at the door cost $30 a day

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