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artist-run art magazine

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Berlin: the (n)ever changing vibrant art city How to Tilt the Axis: Caribbean artist-run spaces evolving the region’s art ecologies


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EDITORIAL TEAM EDITORIAL BOARD ALICE MASELNIKOVA, PONTUS RAUD, ANDREAS RIBBUNG CONTRIBUTING WRITERS ALICE MASELNIKOVA NICOLE SMYTHE-JOHNSON SARIE NIJBOER Power Ekroth CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Pontus Raud (6, 8, 9, 21, 22, 23, 35), Clemens Wilhelm (11), Carlos No (12–13), Liliana Piskorska (15), Andreas Ribbung (16–19, 34), Dondre Trotman (18), Leasho Johnson (18), Tiago Lima (19), Gilbert McCarragher (24–25), Robert Rieger (26), Nick Jeffrey (26), Julie Beugin (26), Artus Perez (27), Joanna Kosowska (29), André Wunstorf (29), Guan Xiao (29), Stefan Korte (30), Daniel Knorr (30), Anastasia Muna (31) GRAPHIC DESIGN KATHARINA PETER LANGUAGE EDITING ALICE MASELNIKOVA, STUART MAYES PROOFREADING Anna Hanchett, Andreas Ribbung ADVERTISING SALES NADJA EKMAN ADVERTISING CONTACT AD@SUPERMARKETARTFAIR.COM ECONOMY ERIC TORESTAD PRINTING PRINTON TRUKIKODA LTD PUBLISHER PONTUS RAUD Cover image: Ursula Burke, ‘The Brazen Head’, Parian Porcelain, dimensions variable, 2016. Photo courtesy of the artist.

artist-run art magazine #7

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11 feb-11 juni 2017

TOR 11–19 & FRE–SÖN 11–17 | MAGASIN3.COM | BUSS 1 & 76 STOCKHOLMS FRIHAMN

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History Unfolds

the Nordic Art School

video installation: Erik Thörnqvist, 2016

Application deadline the 22nd of May 2017!

www.nordiskakonstskolan.fi www.nordicartschool.fi

UMEÅ KONSTSKOLA Information och ansökningshandlingar finns på vår hemsida

www.umeakonstskola.nu

Gunnel Wåhlstrand, Långedrag (detalj), 2004. Tusch på papper. 209 x 157 cm. Samling Magasin III. Foto Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Gunnel Wåhlstrand


CONTENTS

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6

The twilight of intimacy in contemporary art?

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How to Tilt the Axis: Caribbean artist-run spaces evolving the region’s art ecologies

Alice Maselnikova

Nicole Smythe-Johnson

21 ART SWAP Interview with Thomas Weis, Managing Director of IGBK 25 Berlin: the (n)ever changing vibrant art city Sarie Nijboer

Power Ekroth:

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Mother where art thou?

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Art, post-democracy?

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The Stockholm Shuffle

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Grand Tour of 2017


KONSTFACKS VÅRUTSTÄLLNING 11–21 MAJ

MÅNDAG–FREDAG KL 12–19 LÖRDAG–SÖNDAG KL 12–16 LM ERICSSONS VÄG 14 TELEFONPLAN WWW.KONSTFACK.SE

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A not-so-editorial editorial This year we decided to keep our editorial simple and focused internally on expressing our gratitude, rather than trying to tell you what we think intimacy is, commenting lengthily on the state of the art world or attempting to analyse international politics in a few paragraphs. We will leave this uneasy task to our exhibitors, performers, presenters and writers, who are delivering their various visions in the whole extent of the Supermarket 2017 programme, as well as in this magazine. Instead, we would like to expand our usual thank-you note, and dedicate this space to the people who have in the past years spent their time and passion to work with us in this sometimes extremely ungrateful world of non-profit art spaces. Why? Because it is way too easy to take support for granted. Often enough, if unintentionally, we fail to acknowledge all the help, pieces of advice, dedication, and enthusiasm showed to us at work by our colleagues, but also at home by our families and friends. It might be good to remind ourselves now and then that gratitude does not cost anything, but it is a simple and powerful gesture that has the capacity to motivate and, most of all, to develop and strengthen long-lasting partnerships. That is why, first of all, we would like to look back to the preceding Supermarket 2016 and thank to all the last year’s volunteers, helpers and supporters who so generously committed their time and energy towards making it possible. We tried to not omit anyone in the list of the names that you can find at the other side of this publication, nonetheless, we sincerely apologise had we failed and forgotten to mention any of you. Supermarket 2017 is still in the process of finalisation and frantic activity at the time when this editorial is being written. It has been a lot of work: long‑hours of meetings, brainstorming sessions, proofreadings, floor-planning, preparations, and litres of coffee drank and biscuits consumed. Well, and sometimes there was also some fun! Thus we want to express our sincere gratitude and appreciation for all of the hard work and dedication provided by the volunteers and staff working with us. This would not happen without you. You will be mentioned by name in the next year’s edition of the Supermarket Magazine/Catalogue, as the printing deadlines are merciless, and we cannot fit you in time into this one. We also need to thank our dearest ones; families and friends who put up with our late-night working hours and excessive amount of time spent on checking our emails. Finally, we would like to encourage you to keep your eyes open for the next year’s Supermarket, as it might bring some surprises. Last year we have crossed our tenth anniversary, and perhaps the time has come for new impulses, new paths and new lands yet to be explored. We will not reveal our secret plans here for now; let’s just wait and see what happens. The Editorial team

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The twilight of intimacy in contemporary art? Alice Maselnikova


What happens to intimacy when we experience works of art? Can one as a ‘mere spectator’ form an intimate connection with a piece of art, especially in the age of normative values and, perhaps arguably, the seemingly growing absence of any viable relation of the audience to the art object? Is intimacy as such even desirable and still possible in the increasingly globalised western societies and if so – how can we then sustain intimacy in a world that works essentially against it?

I believe that one of the key attractions of art is its

human beings. It is rather a question of how can we

inherent potential for intimacy, a kind of closeness

give value to this innate craving for connection, and for

possible only by acquiring a certain sense of intangible

understanding of our souls, how can we enhance it and,

ownership, or understanding, of an artwork. Such

in relation to art, how can we encourage a meaningful

intimacy can be reached by means of mutual and con-

aesthetic relationship relatable to our existence.

sistent dialogue between the artist and the audience, where through an individual interpretation of

I find it rather difficult to speak of intimacy for a

ultimately relatable concepts and values we create our

combination of reasons, some of them more individual,

very own intimate relationship to art. This dialogue

some perhaps more universal. As a member of the so

does not need to be either direct or obvious, but it

called ‘Generation Y’ or the ‘Millennial’ generation born

always has to be approached with the basic rapport in

somewhere between 1980 and the mid-1990s (a

mind.

categorisation very much created and spread by the mass media though not so much supported by a

Contrary to what it may seem, intimacy is far from

thorough research, so please allow me some general

being a subjective matter. It begins with the individual,

observations), I apparently fall under the definition

but it could never exist by itself. From our family,

of being somewhat lacking in the intimacy department.

friends, lovers, neighbours, communities, acts of civil

What this means is that I belong to a category of

engagement and intercultural dialogue, intimacy as we

young people equipped, amongst other both positive

understand it is not limited by the concepts of ‘I’ and

and negative characteristic, with some major problems

‘you’. Naturally, there would be no society to speak of

when dealing with emotions, relationships and

without relationships with others being developed

interpersonal communication. Having been shaped in a

on deeper and multiple levels. One thing that is so

world of overexposed, fast-developing technology

confusing about modern life is the amalgamation of the

and fragmentary communication via social media, the

public and professional, and the personal. The over-

capacity for connecting to each other, and for commit-

lapping of work and private life, nurtured by modern

ment, seems to have become somewhat more precari-

technologies and dynamic workplace ethics, puts

ous.

constant pressure on performance and time efficiency, as opposed to values of quality or depth of relationships

Correspondingly, artists raised and trained in the past

thus created.

twenty-or-so years face problems of similar nature: how to address an audience who expect a constant source

Despite this, we keep receiving a modern mass-mediat-

of immediate gratification; audiences who are distant,

ed version of the ideal of intimacy which offers a

or feeling distanced, from the actual art experience?

completely different image of what this concept means

How to break through the capital-driven enclosed

in daily existence. Similarly, the media persistently

art-circle and enter the art market without compromis-

pictures the ‘reality show version’ of intimacy stripped

ing one’s artist integrity? As regarding audience motiva-

of its initial private character and delivering instead

tion, it is wavering at best. Since virtually any artwork

a sort of entertaining, grotesque version of postmodern

is instantly accessible on the internet, then why bother

proximity. Nonetheless, people enjoy watching reality

going to often expensive contemporary art exhibitions

shows and the like not solely to substitute a lack of

or frequently incomprehensible art performances?

adventure or intimacy, but also in order to be allowed to

Because, let’s admit it, contemporary art is at times

peek into someone else’s life without guilt or reproba-

both of these, especially concerning its conceptual

tion. Intimacy will naturally remain desirable in

accessibility. Forming an intimate relationship with art

whatever twisted forms its current representation

in general is difficult, but to find one’s intimate way

allows, as our need for it is a given in the nature of

into contemporary art in particular might seem nearly impossible.

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Why indeed? The surrounding socio-political situation

information and population movement, interpersonal

plays a decisive factor in this conundrum. More than

relatedness has become transferable and nomadic: less

ever, the societies of today have become economically

attached to an institutional place and substituted

and politically interdependent as well as increasingly

by ever-present virtual contact – and thus more flexible

culturally intertwined. We live in an age with radical

and easily accessible. He sees the transformation of

political and religious movements on the rise, mass

intimacy and consequently its impact on modern

migration across continents and ruthless political

institutions as a challenge that ultimately heightens

agendas of global leaders supported by the corporate

our sense of individuality through narcissist self-cen-

media, each with an agenda and sponsors of their own.

tred forces. This could also be applied to an art

All these and many other factors contribute to a mutual

institution and be true for our experience of art: does

dependence that, however, differs greatly from the

the rise in individualisation make such experience

one we experienced historically as tight-knit social

more focused on our private perceptions, on the how I

communities and smaller collectives, where mutual

see it, how I relate to it, what does it give to me?

and close exchange was vital for everyone’s prosperity. Where does an intimate art experience stand in the

Our current world negates the personal, the vulnerable and the frankly spoken in favour of ultimate value normalisation. We cooperate without knowing each other; we are professional, cool and composed, but the intimacy is missing. There is a lack of emotion and real interest in anything other than the ‘I’ in our endeavours. We ‘get intimate’, but we don’t share anything.

postmodern context? Intimacy is something most of us lucky ones consider natural: the bonds we have with our families, friends and partners play a key role in our lives. But how often do we really speak of intimacy (or of love, happiness, fulfilment, dreams and so on) – of any of these fragile topics? Such talk is not of a daily nature: in the end, the intimate is to a certain degree intangible and indescribable. It is a complex of moments, nuances, connections, and impressions – and how do we sum these up in a sentence? As it often happens, it is only when we feel a lack of something that we begin to realise the value of it. If we come across contemporary art that does not mean anything to us (Is this even art?!) we start refusing it and condemning it, demanding to know how can anyone pay money for this artsy piece of rubbish. This is connected to our desire for the things to be simpler and for art that makes sense, or put broadly, for the ‘good life’ and ‘good

Does an individualised society mean a more intimate

art’ that we, ‘obviously’, deserve.

society? It depends how we look at it. One of the more positive social theorists touching upon the recent state

Art and culture form a vital part of what we perceive

of intimacy is Anthony Giddens, who developed the

as a society, and vice versa an aesthetic experience

concept of ‘high modernity’ (as opposed to postmoder-

shapes us as individuals. We need them, but we need

nity) and the challenges brought with it.1 According to

them somehow related to our lives and the causes that

Giddens, the multi-stimuli nature of blending traditions

we care for. In the ancient Athenian society the role

and habits, and the enhanced pressure on globally

of a citizen included active participation in all spheres

shared values, together contribute to the lack of

of social life from politics, rhetoric and drama, to art

culturally defined intimacy, as he writes in The

and poetry. An art object carried aside from aesthetic

Transformation of Intimacy:

quality also both ethical and practical value of everyday reality. Crafts were not looked down upon as a

“Where large areas of a person’s life are no longer

second-rate bastardised version of fine art, architecture

set by pre-existing patterns and habits, the

was designed according to specific needs of both its

individual is continually obliged to negotiate

purpose and its users; a mural painting narrated both

life-style options. Moreover – and this is crucial

formally aesthetic and educationally ethical values.

– such choices are not just ‘external’ or marginal

Historically, the role of the aesthetic went hand in hand

aspects of the individual’s attitudes, but define

with the useful, the political and the ethical. All

who the individual ‘is’. In other words, life-style

together these formed easily-recognisable cultural

choices are constitutive of the reflexive narrative

patterns that served as self-identifying elements for all

of self.”2

members of society. If one has a consistent and mutual interaction with the environment (and with objects

Nonetheless, Giddens remains positive in the face of

of art within it), this naturally contributes to the

the globalised world. Due to the constant flux of

quality and depth of the relationships formed. However,


such a relational realisation of art has become history,

we really appreciate, and that really speaks to us, we

and is no longer applicable.

relate it somehow from the artist, through the artwork,

The crafts, the folklore, the humane element have

to our own being: we feel this sensation of awe forming

been gradually removed from the art object and instead

in the whole body and connecting the body and the

art has been placed on a pedestal of uniqueness – or

mind. Great art is able to connect visual pleasure with

rather, of exclusion.

the conceptual and relatable – with intimate aesthetic enjoyment.

There exists the intimacy formed by the societal elements, the personal intimacy of our private lives but

There is a beauty to intimacy, an aesthetic dialogue

then there is also the intimate nature of an aesthetic

that it creates and which has been used in art for

encounter. Although the immediate context is an

centuries. As already mentioned, although our

inherent part of our understanding of art, it is not the

understanding of art is shaped by external elements

only condition for such encounter. It cannot be, since

and works on the basis of sharing, the intimate

an artwork lies at the intersection of the artist (and

experience of art is an extremely subjective one. A

their expression), the audience and the external world,

piece of art speaks to me when it is something that

and with art’s potential for intimacy being made

extends beyond its being solely an object of the art mar-

possible only through such confrontation. Where the

ket and something that I am told is art. It is exactly

aesthetic experience is always processed through

intimate art which touches upon a certain nerve within

our own being, the same happens during the process of

me and makes me shiver down my spine.

creation: the artist puts his or her whole being and their understanding of the world into the thought,

The problem today, however, is the purposeful

form, goal, colour, nuance and tone. We can call this

detachment of the viewer from the object of aesthetic

mediation between the artist’s response to the world

pleasure. We have removed all connections to objects of

and his inner self ‘the artistic voice’ or ‘the artistic

art and architecture that tied practical, ethical and

expression’, but really it is the complete artist’s being

aesthetic value to the spectator on a daily basis, and

which is contained within. If the mediation is balanced,

instead we have turned art into a cold object of display;

and honest, then an aesthetic experience with an art

stripping it of its personal element. If the day-to-day

product of such a creation becomes easily relatable

aesthetic intimacy is gone, where does it leave us?

to the audience. For an artistic voice to be credible and

Going back to the example of ancient Greece: the

in order to preserve its unique capacity, it must try to

classical yet common (in terms of being approachable

stay wary of being drowned out by the demands of any

to the ‘commoners’) art of ancient Athens took on

of the intersecting spheres. This naturally puts it

the task of representing certain truths, depicting the

under extreme pressure when being squashed between

reality. Such kind of singular reality, however, no longer

the demands of the art market and those of artistic

exists and is impossible to represent today, in a world

integrity.

fi lled with subjective truths where there are no more political, aesthetic or religious legitimacies.

It is very easy to say that everyone expects something

Philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy recently commented in the

different from an art experience, or come to that,

interview There is no West Anymore that: “the modern

from intimacy. Nothing can be defi nitive or objective

world sees truth as an infi nite process of searching. (…)

today, in the world of normative choices, where all must

A whole culture is being invented where the very

be transient and conditioned by the existence of

meaning of “art” is becoming more obscure, precisely

possible exceptions. And where art can indeed be

because it is no longer about representing given

anything. It is true that this postmodern defi nition of

truths.”3

contemporary art is rather convenient and leaves the door open to an endless array of possibilities. Yet – all

When truth is reduced to singular processes of

can be[come] art, but not all is good art. Aside from

searching, then art will also inevitably fail to deliver

certain formal or conceptual standards that could be

any ultimate relatable experience, only representing an

agreed upon: art that is technically masterful, art

individual artist’s voice and neglecting to consider

that sells well, art that speaks to the majority of people,

its impact upon the whole aesthetic understanding in a

art that conveys a strong political message and so

society. Contemporary art has a difficult task in trying

on, it is the element of intimacy that plays a key role in

to make any sense whatsoever from this plurality

our aesthetic appreciation of an artwork. Different

of stimulants, angles, stirred emotions and diversities.

types of art induce different types of intimacy and

And although art is not an ultimate panacea, it is

demand different approaches of the spectator – it is not

capable of expressing, sharing, and showing intimacy

only tactile art or participatory art that can bring

in ways that we perhaps do not dare to do elsewhere.

about an intimate aesthetic experience. It is all art that

Intimacy, both in its broadest and narrowest sense, is a

has intimate capacity. When faced with artwork that

dangerous friend. It unfolds something we might not

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necessarily be willing or proud to show. It turns us

dialogue of intimacy, then it must be done in terms of

away from the egalitarian ideal back into individuals

exchanges of ideas, frank discussions, and artworks

with all our weaknesses and wounds and soft flesh.

that can captivate the audience in joint awe and enable

According to the dictionary, the opposite of intimacy is

them to share the experience together. It is not an

enmity, hate, disagreement, incompatibility. Sure, it can

easy task to bring back the day-to-day nature of art,

be all of those. But lack of intimacy does not necessarily

perhaps even impossible in the current context;

have strictly negative connotations of conflict or

however, it never hurts to try. There is no right way to

animosity. It simply represents an empty space: a void,

‘do intimacy’. None of us really knows the ultimate

a distance, or a passive disinterest. Yet this blank

recipe. But then again, if we did, what kind of sterilised

spot marks that something of extreme importance to

standardised intimacy would we get anyway? ■

our lives is missing. Perhaps this is why I consider intimacy as a theme of

References

extreme relevance for contemporary art and one that is

Zygmunt Bauman, ‘Liquid Modernity’ (2000)

often neglected. As artists, by listening just slightly

Anthony Giddens, ‘Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age’ (1991)

more intently to what the audience have to say, what they deal with and what they imagine, and through incorporating all these different voices in the mediating process of artistic creation, perhaps we can point towards this absence. There are so many questions to contemplate and discuss but one of them I will repeat again: how do we sustain intimacy in a world that works essentially against it? How can we best succeed at connecting with other sectors in a meaningful, productive way through art as artist, curators and

Anthony Giddens, ‘Transformation of Intimacy” (1992) Ellen J Esrock, ‘Touching Art: Intimacy, Embodiment and the somatosensory system’ (2001) Lynn Jamieson, ‘Intimacy as a Concept: Explaining Social Change in the Context of Globalisation or Another Form of Ethnocentricism?’ (2011) Thomas P. Kasulis, ‘Intimacy or Integrity: Philosophy and Cultural Difference’ (2002) Jean-Luc Nancy, ‘There is No West Anymore’, Huffington Post, 14 July 2016.

cultural workers? Most importantly how can we link art back to our daily lives, take it down from its marble

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pedestal and form a valuable, daily relationship with it? The answer, which I already suggested at the beginning of this article, is simple, but not an easy one: through an honest dialogue between all the parties involved.

1  You can read more in A. Giddens, ‘Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age’ (1991), ‘Transformation of Intimacy’ (1992) or ‘Classical modernity and late modernity’ (1990). Also for a different approach see ‘Liquid Modernity’ (2000) by Z. Bauman 2  Giddens, Anthony.“Transformation of Intimacy”, 1992:75 3  Nancy, Jean-Luc. “There is No West Anymore.” Huffington Post, 14th July 2016.

The thing is, intimacy will not be given to us for free. It does not work like that in life and nor does it in art. No, you have to ‘do intimacy’ all the way through in order to achieve it.

Intimacy takes time and demands focus; ‘to intimate’ is to share, to communicate, to actively engage with the life around us and to create connections from our inner life to that external jungle of contradictions and confusions. Neither can intimacy be passive or solitary – it needs

citizens, where it [also] belongs. If one of the key

Alice Maselnikova is Czech artist, curator, and art coordinator based in Stockholm. Fond of (in alphabetical order): art, books, cheese, chess, jazz, nudes, philosophy, politics, whisky, wine and writing. Alice is a member of Performance Art Links Stockholm, a board member of Art, Culture & Society, and project coordinator of Supermarket 2017. She holds a BA (Hons) in Art and Philosophy and is taking an MA in Curating Art at Stockholm University. Most recently she was awarded the Transfer North Critical Curatorial Writing Residency 2016-17 and is focusing her research on curatorial practices in the rural context of north-west Russia.

purposes of art is to bring forward the aesthetic

Photo: Daniel Nagy, 2016

to be moulded, interacted with, and clutched close to the skin. If we want to understand contemporary art and form a meaningful relationship with it, then we need to work on this relationship at the receivers’ end – but equally so the artist and the art institution need to attempt to return the art object back to the


Clemens Wilhelm, ‘Contact’, video, 15mins, Prague, 2015, photo: Clemens Wilhelm. Exhibits with HilbertRaum.


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Carlos No, ‘Villa Bidão’. Exhibits with Candyland.


Urban Larsson

Landskap, stilleben & porträtt 18 februari – 16 april

Sven-Harrys konstmuseum Eastmansvägen 10–12, 113 61 Stockholm

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Liliana Piskorska, ‘Self-portrait with borrowed man (I am a Pole so I have Polish responsibilities)’, photography print, 40x30 cm, 2016. Exhibits with Miłość Gallery.


How to Tilt the Axis: Caribbean artist-run spaces evolving the region’s art ecologies

Nicole Smythe-Johnson

Just over a week ago, I officially began my tenure as the

What does that mean exactly? Perhaps it is helpful to do

inaugural Tilting Axis fellow. The fellowship was

a quick survey of how things have been. From a

launched in the spring of 2016 as a way to encourage

position of relative invisibility within the ‘global art

research in Caribbean curatorial practice. Importantly,

world’, over the last two decades the region has built a

not just any research, but research specifically

name for itself. Artists such as Christopher Cozier,

conducted by an emerging contemporary art practi-

Janine Antoni, Blue Curry, Tania Bruguera, or Ebony G.

tioner living and working in the Caribbean.

Patterson, to name but a few, have caught the eye of international curators and gleaned the support of major

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ARC Magazine, Promotional Image, Issue 3

The Tilting Axis Fellowship is only the most recent step

international institutions. Major survey shows of

in what has been a long journey. Tilting Axis began as a

Caribbean art, such as Who More Sci-Fi than Us? and

series of meetings looking at how to ‘tilt the axis’; a

Caribbean: Crossroads of the World have taken place,

term coined by Tilting Axis founders Bajan and

Caribbean artists have made it onto the cover of Frieze

Vincentian artists/arts administrators Annalee Davis

(April 2015, Issue 162), and The Bahamas was repre-

and Holly Bynoe. According to Bynoe, tilting the axis is

sented at the 2013 Venice Biennale by Tavares Strachan.

a process of “re-focusing… our gaze and harnessing our

Yet, in 2004, when a young Ebony G. Patterson asked

collective power to make the [Caribbean] visual arts

established Jamaican-born artist Nari Ward how to be

sector more sustainable in ways that resonate with our

successful, his reply was ‘get out’, that is to say,

lived realities in the Caribbean.”

migrate.1 Unfortunately, this remains the case. Though the Caribbean has always been a kind of cultural workshop, churning out all kinds of creative production from musical and performative genres to the more recently recognised visual art, the region has been woefully under-resourced and lacking in the kind of infrastructure that supports creative production. That is the case for physical infrastructure such as exhibition and studio space, as well as less tangible infrastructure including practical and theoretical courses and legal framework to protect the creation and dissemination of works. There are no dedicated curatorial or art history courses in the English-speaking Caribbean, and precious few throughout the Dutch, French and Spanish-speaking regions (depending on how you defi ne the Caribbean, which has been an ongoing source of contention). And, as Executive Director of the National Gallery of the Bahamas, Amanda Coulson, pointed out ‘[t]he idea that anything intellectual happens here is anathema to the brand we [The Bahamas] have projected to the outside world.” This further exacerbates the situation of Caribbean art, since what would a society supposedly uninterested in intellectual pursuit do with libraries, 1 ‘Nari Ward with Nicole Smythe-Johnson’, The Miami Rail. Winter 2015. Web & Print.


galleries, museums, and art history courses anyway? Even if the artists stayed, who would be their audience? Tilting Axis came out of a need to respond to these conditions. What would it take to make the Caribbean a viable place for artists and arts professionals to live and work? How could we begin to support those creative workers who either cannot or will not ‘get out’? How could we begin to shift the conversation away from NLS, Kingston, exterior

producing work for the ‘global art world’, somewhere out there, towards production not merely by, but for us fi rst and foremost, with the world out there as an

developing programming ideas and responding to

afterthought, rather than the other way around?

limitations, while completely unaware of what their counterparts are doing just across the sea. Further-

Over the last decade or so, a number of organisations

more, it is generally cheaper to fly between a Caribbean

– mostly artist-run – have sprouted with the intention

country and Miami or New York, than to fly from one

of addressing these circumstances. Initiatives like Alice

Caribbean country to another. Not to mention the

Yard in Trinidad, New Local Space (NLS) Kingston in

difficulty of communicating across a region that speaks

Jamaica, Popopstudios: International Centre of Visual

no less than four European languages (English, Spanish,

Art in The Bahamas, Fresh Milk in Barbados, Beta-Local

French, and Dutch) and dozens of indigenous and creole

in Puerto Rico, Tembe Art Studios in Suriname,

languages. So even where there was interest in linking

Groundation in Grenada and regional initiative ARC

experiences, there have always been significant logistic

Magazine have been evolving, presenting programming

limitations. The isolation of living on an island also has

that aims to not merely put on art exhibitions and host

significant personal effects on arts professionals, who

artist talks, but more pivotally to create the kind of

often fi nd themselves pushed into a position of

ecosystem that might support a thriving regional art

self-imposed exile and marginalisation within and

scene.

without their homelands.

These programming activities include residency

When asked why she and Bynoe started thinking about

opportunities for local and international artists, open

organising the regional meetings that would eventually

studios and critiques, representation at international

coalesce into Tilting Axis, Davis responded with a list:

art fairs, publications support and a whole host of other artist support activities. Several organisations have

To combat isolation; to move conversations

also developed more unique programming in response

happening sporadically in silos across the

to their specific contexts. NLS, for example, has a

archipelago into one room with colleagues who

particularly active online presence. The organisation,

seemed to be all responding to similar challenges

led by artist Deborah Anzinger, has conducted research

in their local spaces, to forge community; to grow

into the Jamaican art scene through a series of online

the professional network; to develop agendas

surveys; the results of that research are available on

about the Caribbean from the perspective of the

NLS’ website (nlskingston.org). They also regularly host

Caribbean; to contribute to developing a healthy

an online talk show called IN, which has generated an

cultural ecosystem which could buttress artists’

excellent archive housed on their YouTube page. Tembe,

livelihoods. Oftentimes, many decisions are made

led by artist Marcel Pinas, have done a series of

about the Caribbean from somewhere else and we

community projects in the former mining town of

need to reflect on what we need and figure out

Moengo where they are based. These projects have

how to make it happen…2

engaged the marginalised Surinamese Maroons in a variety of income generation projects, such as furniture

Having seen the need for a regional meeting that might

design utilising traditional Maroon symbolism. They

achieve these things, Bynoe and Davis began looking

have also developed a restaurant, a community centre

for funding to support their vision. They initially

and an annual arts and music festival that brings

applied for a grant in late 2012, trying to work with the

thousands of people to an economically depressed rural

São Paulo-based contemporary art festival Videobrasil

community.

as a Global South partner. Unfortunately, they were not successful so the two decided to go ahead and make it

These initiatives are significant individually, but could

happen anyway. They developed a relationship with

have broader impact as models for the whole region. Yet

Tobias Ostrander, an American curator who was just

due to the archipelagic nature of the region, organisa-

beginning a new role as chief curator at the Perez Art

tions have quite often ended up re-inventing the wheel,

Museum Miami (PAMM). Ostrander was interested in 2 Email interview, 6th December 2016.

17


became an institutional affi liate of Tilting Axis. Though 2012 was a kind of watershed year, the fi rst Tilting Axis conference would not happen until February 2015 at Fresh Milk in Barbados under the banner Tilting Axis: Within and Beyond the Caribbean, Shifting Models of Sustainability and Connectivity. The meeting brought together the founding directors of artist-led initiatives from across the Caribbean, as well fRESH MILK XVI, the Barbados Launch of ‘See Me Here: A Survey of Self Portraits from the Caribbean’, fresh Milk Art Platform, 2014. The artist Leasho Johnson is connected to NLS Kingston. ‘Ever-bless / good-good’, mixed media, 64” x 37” (163x94 cm)

as representatives of independent art organisations and museums based in in China, Europe, and the U.S. The having the newly opened PAMM respond to its

goal of the meeting was to engage in a dialogue, and

immediate community in the Miami area, a community

exchange notes on the variety of models of artist led

that includes a significant portion of the Caribbean

initiatives and their activities both within the

diaspora. He decided to begin his tenure with a smaller

Caribbean and more broadly. The negotiation of

version of the Caribbean: Crossroads of the World

regional and international alliances for the further

exhibition that had been spread across three museums

development of infrastructure, production and markets

in New York throughout the summer of 2012.

for the Caribbean’s visual arts sector was also a major focus.

Mario Caro, President of ResArtis, became another

18

important ally. Bynoe, Davis and Caro met at Video-

The team followed up with a mid-point meeting in São

brasil, where Caro had expressed interest in Fresh

Paulo in October 2015, naming it Tilting Axis 1.5. This

Milk’s online project mapping art spaces across the

smaller meeting took place in collaboration with the

Caribbean region. The Davidoff Art Initiative, founded

19th Videobrasil Contemporary Art Festival, entitled

in 2012, was also looking for ways to support contempo-

Southern Panoramas, which sought to look at the

rary art in the Caribbean and they too became key

potential for South–South partnerships in Contempo-

partners. Finally, Juliet Dean, the newly appointed

rary Art.

British Council Arts Adviser based in Glasgow, expressed interest in engaging the Caribbean and soon

In February 2016, Tilting Axis 2.0 was held at the Perez Art Museum in Miami. This meeting explored the current state of cultural work in the Caribbean, and aimed to fortify networks, increase administrative and programming capacities, as well as transfer knowledge and funding opportunities to those working in the region. Participants formed working groups looking at issues of mobility (significantly hampered in the Caribbean by visa regimes and fi nancial limitations), education, and curatorial practice (looking at questions of what decolonisation might mean within the context of Caribbean creative and pedagogical practice). That was the fi rst TA meeting that I attended, and it became clear to me and several other participants that there were two primary strains to the discussion; issues of logistics – mobility, technology, funding, and so on – and of theoretical perspectives and criticality, that is how to contend with the genesis of the exhibitionary complex as an imperial tool, how to introduce models of artistic activity that are responsive to the conditions of marginality and so on. The TA Fellowship also came out of those meetings as a specific response to problems of mobility. The fellowship aims to provide the kind of fi nancial and mentorship support that rigorous theorising and research from a Caribbean perspective requires. The participation of the British Council Scotland, Scottish


artist Graham Fagen (who had just presented a project looking at the links between Scotland and the Caribbean at the Venice Biennale), and arts administrator and Executive Director, Lucy Byatt, of the Scottish art space Hospitalfield (who was administering the Scottish Pavilion) in the Tilting Axis 2 meetings, led to an interest on the part of Scottish arts organisations in supporting the work of Tilting Axis in some way. Thus, the Tilting Axis Fellowship is supported by a consortium of Scottish organisations (Centre for Contemporary Art Glasgow, the Mother Tongue curatorial duo, David Dale Gallery, Hospitalfield and British Council Scotland). This is how I come to fi nd myself with a fi rst stop in Scotland before I continue unto Barbados, Grenada, Suriname and Puerto Rico

the visibility of artistic output is achieved, and one of

later this year. The outcome of my research will be a

the main goals of TA is to increase the visibility of the

series of texts looking at the kinds of alternative curato-

work of Caribbean artists.

rial practice being evolved in artist-run spaces in each of the sites that I will visit, and a presentation at the

The TA model remains fluid, “shapeshifting as it

upcoming Tilting Axis 3, slated to be held at the

responds to the needs of the region’s art community” in

National Gallery of the Cayman Islands in May 2017.

the words of Davis. Looking to the future, the team is considering the Caribbean coast of Colombia as the site

Though the link between Scotland and the Caribbean

for Tilting Axis 4, with intention of more deliberately

may seem obscure at fi rst glance, my research indicates

considering the role of language in the Caribbean and

that there are more links than might be expected in

expanding the network to include the coastal rim of

these two spaces. The history of the Trans-Atlantic

Latin and Central America.

slave trade provides one connection3, but the two spaces are also marginal in different but not unrelated

If you are interested in participating in or contributing

ways. The resistance to the nomenclature ‘curator’, and

to the Tilting Axis movement, please get in touch at

the tendency to facilitate artist practice in ways that

tiltingaxis@gmail.com. ■

are not focused around exhibition-making are two important parallels, but there are other.

Maria Elena Ortiz, Holly Bynoe (co-founder of Tilting Axis and ARC Magazine, and chief curator of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas), Annalee Davis (co-founder of Tilting Axis and director of the fresh Milk Art Platform) and N’Goné fall participate in a panel discussion at Tilting Axis 1.5 in Sao Paulo.

In this third iteration of the Tilting Axis meetings, arts professionals based in the Caribbean, and many based elsewhere but linked to, or interested in the Caribbean (via the diaspora or professional interest), will again come together to think more specifically about curatorial practice across the region and its outposts. The conference will take the Latin root of the word curate, curare, as its theme, with an eye to looking at the various ways of ‘taking care’ of artists, arts institutions and their various outputs. This decision is driven by the idea that seriously considering curatorial practice is vital because curating is the primary means by which 3 British newspaper ‘The Guardian’ published an excellent article on the subject recently – Stephen McLaren, “The slave trade made Scotland rich. Now we must pay our blood-soaked debts.” 13th January 2017. Online.

Tilting Axis 1- A discussion group in fresh Milk’s Colleen Lewis Reading Room, led by Dr Marsha Pearce, lecturer in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies- St Augustine, Trinidad and Senior Editor of ARC Magazine. Speaking is Malaika Brooks-SmithLowe (artist and founder of Groundation in Grenada), other participants include Amanda Coulson (executive director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas), N’Goné fall (independent curator and co-founder of GawLab in Senegal), Tobias Ostrander (chief curator of the Pèrez Art Musuem in Miami), Solange farkas (director of the Associação Cultural Videobrasil in Sao Paulo), Deborah Anzinger (founder of New Local Space in Jamaica), Maria Elena Ortiz (assistant curator at the Pèrez Art Museum Miami), Kira SimonKennedy (co-founder China Residencies) and Remco de Blaiij (senior curator at the Centre for Contemporary Art in Glasgow).

Nicole Smythe-Johnson is a writer and independent curator, working from and living in Kingston Jamaica. She has written for ‘ARC magazine’, ‘Miami Rail’, ‘Flash Art’, ‘Jamaica Journal’ and several other local and international publications. She is currently Assistant Curator on an exhibition of the work of Jamaican painter John Dunkley at the Perez Art Museum in Miami opening May 2017, and the inaugural Tilting Axis Fellow. Her fellowship research looks at Caribbean curatorial practice, particularly as it occurs in artist-run and other non-traditional art spaces. Photo: Maleika BSL Photography

Annalee Davis speaking at Tilting Axis 1.5 in Sao Paulo.


Visas till och med den

6 juni – 23 september

23 april 2017

2017

M E TA N O I A Yaşam Şaşmazer

N O R R B OT T N I S K FO L K KO N S T En inventering av den folkliga

C H I TA TA N N Leah Gordon André Eugène

konsten under 1900-talet och fram till våra dagar Utställningen ä r cu rerad av

fotog rafi och skulptu r från Haiti

Mats Wi kst röm och Bi rgitta Lindst röm

UMEÅ UNIVERSITY HAVRE M AGA S I N E T havremagasinet.se

Länskonsthall Boden

Umeå Konsthögskola BFA & MFA www.art.umu.se


ART SWAP: Interview with THOMAS WEIS, Managing Director of IGBK

Once upon a time, in 2008, there was a meeting in

of experience, coming from art producers from

Berlin.

different locations, in addition to artist-run art fairs,

76 artist-run initiatives from throughout Europe took

such as for example Supermarket Stockholm Independ-

part in the open forum Art Swap Europe at the Berliner

ent Art Fair.

Akademie der Künste. The initial call for participation

Art Swap Europe was also a political statement. For

in the event was addressed to different organisational

visual artists, artist-run initiatives, for the whole

forms of non-commercial artist-run exhibition and

independent art scene in Europe, mobility and

project spaces.

exchange have always been a crucial part of everyday work. But as much as mobility and exchange serve

How was the reception of the meeting?

artistic development, and possibly a better fi nancial

The reception was quite good in many ways. First of all,

situation, artists face major obstacles when touring and

IGBK (the German National Committee of IAA, the

working abroad. So the discussions within Art Swap

International Association of Art) was happy to welcome

Europe on mobility obstacles, structures, and network-

76 artist-run initiatives from around Europe when

ing were also some of the starting points for IGBK to

we organised the fi rst Art Swap Europe forum in 2008

intensify their work on these issues.

in Berlin. The call was addressed to different non-com-

In 2013 we implemented – as one of the results of these

mercial artist-run exhibition and project spaces,

discussions – our online information tool

resulting in a broad spectrum of initiatives shown.

www.touring-artists.info, a joint project with the

During the two days of the event the initiatives had the

German Centre of the International Theatre Institute,

opportunity for discussions and face-to-face-meetings

for artists and artist-initiatives working internationally.

in an ‘Open Forum’. They also had the chance to give an introduction of their work and the concepts they have

Will there be a follow up… Art Swap 2?

been working with, in the foyer exhibition of the

IGBK has been discussing this possibility ever since

‘Akademie der Künste’. This exhibition was open to the

the end of the fi rst event. In principle, we are very much

public and was very well attended.

interested in hosting a new edition. We have been

The programme was completed by three panel

thinking that to organise another Art Swap Europe in

discussions on the topics of artists’ mobility, art

2018, 10 years after the fi rst Art Swap, could be a

support programmes, artists’ networks and structures,

very good idea.

and on showing the best examples of art initiatives’

The proposal of our board members, and of the Art

practices, all of which also attracted a considerable

Swap initiator Werner Schaub, who is also the current

audience.

president of IAA Europe, is to involve not only Supermarket – Stockholm Independent Art Fair and IAA

Would you say that Art Swap made some conclusions

Europe as partners of the future Art Swap editions, but

during the meetings?

also other European artists’ associations to get a

We didn’t make any conclusions, but the considerable

stronger fi nancial and organisational basis. So we are

interest in Art Swap Europe showed that there is a high

very much looking forward to this cooperation,

demand for a decentralised discussion and an exchange

and we plan to start with our preparatory talks soon. ■

21


Mother where art thou? Power Ekroth

I can’t recall ever having seen any headlines from the Guardian whose main purpose would be to inform that a man of any age had become a parent. Indeed, there had to be some sort of ‘monkey-business’ happening when a woman gives birth to a child post menopause, but it is confusing why this would be of any business to anyone outside of the close group of friends and family of the parent. We all know that being female will give you a lower pension than if you are male. We all know that

22

being female in the art world will get you a great deal lower prices for your artwork than being male (in 95% of the cases). We all know that being a female gallerist you will sell less, and for lower prices, than if you were male. We all know that in the western world, we try to postpone parenting as long as we can in order to have a stable income before we start caring for yet another person. Because, we all know that when a female artist becomes a mother and disappears from the scene for a while, it will almost always make her disappear entirely. In fact, many women in the art world choose not to have babies at all. It is therefore The happy news of the birth of Dame Julia Peyton-Jones’

not strange or remarkable in any way that a successful

baby daughter Pia was announced in January 2017.

woman waits until she has the proper time and

Peyton-Jones stepped down as director of Serpentine

possibility to have a baby without jeopardising too

Galleries not so long ago after 25 years at the helm. She

many of her career possibilities.

is described in the Guardian as “a known workaholic, she was a key force in building the reputation of the

While I love juicy-fruity gossip, I am also keen to see

Serpentine, commissioning and showcasing ground-

the real gossip, like which dealer or artist went to which

breaking exhibitions, education and public programmes

sauna with which collector, and what was the outcome?

and overseeing a £4m renovation.”

I am not so curious about which bodily fluids got exchanged, but rather the actual outcome of which

The Guardian writes these great words about

artwork was sold and for what price. And why is it so

Peyton-Jones, while the headline reads ”Dame Julia

important for male dealers to smoke cigars (yes, really)?

Peyton-Jones becomes a mother for first time aged 64”.

We have all thought about it, so we are all imagining the hilarious steamy headlines already, and these

Some years ago, Sweden had similar headlines when

headlines would perhaps be able to actually challenge

famous painter Cecilia Edefalk gave birth to a child at

the prehistoric system instead of reinforcing and

the age of 58.

reinstating it. ■


Art, post-democracy? POWER EKROTH In the year 2016 we didn’t only lose a lot of famous

excellent news for the kind of art that is really

people, we also fi nally lost faith and hope in the basis of

decorative.

the western world’s civilisation. We entered an era of post-democracy with the election of Donald Trump, the

Within neo-liberal governments the polarisation

UK’s decision to ‘Brexit’, and we also woke up to a

between poor and rich becomes even more extreme,

Europe full of fascists and xenophobic governments.

and tax-reductions for the richest is something that is

Neo-liberalism is the general background theme and

on the table not only in Trump quarters, but in most

the fertilizer behind this. The situation permeates

countries of the Western world. This is normally good

every part of human life right now, so how will this

news for the art market. However, it does not necessar-

affect the arts?

ily mean tax-reductions for donations to art museums, so that might be a rebuff for that type of ‘market’.

On one hand we all know that the neo-liberal forces prefer a market’s approach to the arts, rather than a

And on the other hand, it seems that the most

state support system that might, at least in a non-cor-

vulnerable groups of society will get a tougher time,

rupt state, guarantee some freedom of expression.

and artists are always present in this group. And

While the liberty of the individual seems to be in focus,

tougher times for artists means greater challenges and

it is remarkable how little support the idea of liberty

starker realities for them, and thus a vast wealth

itself gets from these so called liberal governments.

of problems, issues, and concerns to dig into and start

With the art adjusted to the market, we get art that

making art about. And that might be excellent news

won’t rub anyone up the wrong way, and that might be

for the kind of art that is really urgent, creative, and radical. ■

Varje droppe färg i avloppet är en droppe för mycket

Foto: Ewa Ahlin och iStockphoto.

Du kan bidra till en bättre miljö genom att välja att måla med kadmiumfria färger och ta hand om dina färgrester på rätt sätt. Mer information om hur du målar miljöanpassat finns på www.kappala.se

För renare sjöar och skärgård


SARIE NIJBOER

The feuerle Collection. The former telecommunications bunker, repurposed by architect John Pawson. Image credits: Gilbert McCarragher


I remember my first experience in the Berlin art scene

ties for local art production. Berlin’s entrepreneurial

remarkably clearly. I was about to start my internship

spirit has been facilitated by a surplus of empty

at Bpigs in September 2010, right at the beginning

buildings. The constant wave of newcomers is

of Preview Art Fair, abc art berlin contemporary, and an

expanding the network of commercial galleries, project

eclectic array of other art-related events. I had no

spaces, and art initiatives that play a major role in

understanding about the main players in the Berlin art

the constant transformation of the art scene. It is this

scene; everything seemed of equal importance. I dived

constant influx of artists and art spaces that make

straight into it without knowing where it would take

for a vibrant and curious artistic community, despite a

me, and it was not until I left Berlin and returned in

persistent lack of financial means.

2015 that I understood how things work here, and why Berlin is an ever-blooming capital of contemporary art. The common attitude here is – ‘poor, but sexy’. When

The Berlin art scene divided in neighbourhoods

it comes to art Berlin it is still known for its laid-back and down-to-earth approach: no champagne, no

Michael Rocco and Carrick Bell. Image credits: Robert Rieger Studio View Michael Rocco and Carrick Bell at Horse and Pony Fine Arts. Image credits: Robert Rieger Nick Jeffrey, ‘Dream Divider’ Installation view, curated by Carolina Ongaro. Image Credits: Horse and Pony Fine Arts Julie Beugin, ‘Clearing’, 2016. Image Credits: Horse and Pony Fine Arts

glamour, and do not even think about wearing your

Even though neighbourhoods such as Mitte or

high heels to an opening. Talking to gallerists is as easy

Kreuzberg have become extremely gentrified, there is

as talking to your friends, and you quickly befriend

plenty of growing-room left in the city. Over the

artists at the openings where everyone is chatting their

years galleries have moved out from Mitte towards the

way around with a beer in their hand.

‘lower cost and more accessible areas’ such as Neukölln and Wedding.

A total of 6,000 art professionals are registered in Berlin, however, a report from 2008 on the business

The recent favorite of artists, Neukölln, is a burgeoning

aspects of Berlin’s cultural industry revealed that

neighbourhood known for its mix of cultures, hipsters,

more than 20,000 visual artists make it their home. The

and relatively low rents. One of the many art spots in

city’s open demeanour, historical background, slower

the neighbourhood is the project and studio space

pace, and lower costs, attract flocks of visitors all year

‘Horse and Pony Fine Arts’ run by Michael Rocco and

round. These conditions also generate great possibili-

Carrick Bell, who found the former Dönermanufaktur a


couple of years ago with the idea to repurpose it into a living space, studio space, and an exhibition room. They negotiated lower rent by taking on the renovation costs, and even today their rent is relatively cheap which allows them the freedom to experiment. “The pressure to make money, to have a ‘normal’ life, is less intense than in other vibrant art cities in the world”, says Carrick Bell. “Berlin might not be the city to make money in, but is for sure the city to make a lot of art in. The lower costs make it possible for an artist to be more experimental and focus on production.” The fostering of this artistic experimentation comes

27

together at the Festival 48 Stunden Neukölln. The festival is a forum for projects in all the imaginable artistic disciplines found in the Berlin art scene. The art projects presented are specifically conceived with Neukölln in mind, inspired by or dealing with realities of local life, the diversity and the special demographic of that area. The festival supports the local art community and has a strong interest in projects that take a stance on social issues and that support lasting exchanges of ideas on the international art scene. On the border of Mitte and Wedding you can find NON Berlin. Wedding is a neighbourhood that has been on the list for Berlin’s hottest artistic hubs for a long time. Although it still does not come close to being the next Neukölln, it represents a similar ethnically diverse range of art and culture. NON Berlin, created in 2014, intends to organise projects bridging Asian and German art and culture. Their aim is to establish partnerships and collaborative efforts between the city and artists, directors, alternative spaces, and bring them to a wider public. In an interview with Berlinartlink, NON Berlin explains: “We want to build a network within the European market by curating special exhibitions, forums, seminars, art performances and inter-media projects.”1 With its focus on the cultural exchange between Asia and Europe the platform has brought a new tendency in the often locally oriented Berlin art scene.

1, 2: Artus Perez, ‘No natural disaster’ Exhibition view Horse and Pony Fine Arts. Image Credits: Artus Perez and Horse and Pony Fine Arts Asian Art Talk Show: ‘What is Asia in contemporary art’, NON Berlin. Image Credits: NON Berlin Forum & Talk: 'NON論DA多 {PLAY}', NON Berlin. Image Credits: NON Berlin NON Berlin. Image Credits: NON Berlin


While the spaces based in Wedding and Neukölln remain places for experimentation, Kreuzberg has

Questioning the nomadic self

become the place for showing high-end exhibitions. The much-loved König Gallery moved out of its original

Highlighting the main art districts and some of their

location in Mitte in 2006 to a former industrial building

hot spots is just a small part of mapping the Berlin art

on Dessauer Strasse, in a district filled with museums.

scene. Not only is the Berlin art landscape spread far

In 2015 it opened a second location at the former

and wide; it is also mobile and mutable, with many

church complex St. Agnes designed by the Brutalist

entities hosting temporary exhibitions and events.

architect Werner Düttmann in the 1960s. With its

Kulturprojekte Berlin is the influential organiser behind

jam-packed exhibition openings, the gallery is

the major annual events such as the Berlin Art Week,

becoming the hot spot for Berlin’s twenty-somethings.

Transmediale, Long Night of Museums, and European

It presents ambitiously curated shows with young,

Month of Photography. Set up in 2011 by the federal

emerging, and established artists, such as the Turner

state of Berlin, the organisation aims to bring stake-

Prize winner artist Helen Marten, and the Berlin-based

holders from the district and federal realms together

scene darlings Alicja Kwade, Katharina Grosse and

with partners from the private sector on a national and

Jeremy Shaw.

international level. The Berlin Art Week in September is now one of the most important yearly milestones for

Still in Kreuzberg and not so far from Mitte you can find

Berlin’s art community, bringing together abc art berlin

the gallery cluster at Lindenstrasse, which belongs to

contemporary, Positions Art Fair, the Berlin Biennale,

the famous gallery district close to Checkpoint Charlie.

prize awards, museums, private collections, galleries,

The building, architecturally suited for exhibitions, is

and project spaces.

currently home to eleven leading international

28

galleries, including Galerie Niels Borch Jensen, Galerie

Numerous project spaces are a special asset to Berlin’s

Nordenhake, Konrad Fischer, and Galerie ŻAK

art landscape, and largely shape the local scene: almost

BRANICKA. Together with the gallery building at

50 percent of the Berlin artists present their work at 150

Rudi-Dutschke-Strasse hosting, among others,

project spaces that exist in Berlin.3 Because of that, the

Alexander Levy, Galerie Isabella Czarnowska and

Network of Independent Berlin Project Spaces and

Galerie Crone, the area evolved into one of Berlin’s main

Initiatives was born. Founded in 2009, the initiative

hubs for contemporary art.

aims to establish a long-term network infrastructure, improve working conditions for artists and independent

Outside all of the gallery districts you find Sexauer

arts producers, implement cooperation and exchange,

Gallery. For the past three years, the name of the

and raise awareness for public perception of independ-

gallerist Jan-Philipp Sexauer has become synonymous

ent project spaces and initiatives. The network

with the slightly remote venue worth reaching for

organises structural meetings and groups working on

excellent shows that tend to push the limits of

different topics, as well as meetings with external

exhibiting art. He is daring, takes risks, and gives space

parties for its members.

to young artists to experiment in ways that they would not be able to in most galleries. “I think that it is

This very Berlin-specific phenomenon succeeds without

important that they can work almost as if they are

commercial intent. The project space movement

in a museum, and do what they really want”, Jan‑Philipp

was created initially through the energy of the scene

Sexauer told in an interview with Bpigs.2

itself and without any governmental support. At this moment the city of Berlin has a budget of 300,000 Euros for the production of exhibitions; 28 galleries and 1,000 Berlin-based artists profit from an average of 150 to 200

Exhibition View ‘The Others’, curated by Elmgreen & Dragset at König Galerie. Image Credits: König Galerie

exhibitions per year.4 In 2012, the Network of Independent Berlin Project Spaces and Initiatives started the Award for Art Project Spaces and Initiatives with support from the Berlin Senate to reward project spaces and initiatives for their interdisciplinary work. In 2016, a total of 20 awards, each receiving 30,000 Euro, was acknowledged for innovative achievements. The Project Space Festival is another unique event that stands out. During August it schedules a total of 31 project spaces to open their doors over the course of


outsider in Berlin. However, it is platforms such as the Award for Art Project Spaces and Initiatives, the Project Space Festival, and the Center of Minimum Distance who take it upon themselves to ensure public awareness about the project space art scene. To navigate your way through the ever‑changing landscape of project spaces you can have a look at the directory on Berlin Art Link as well as listings on the platform Bpigs-Berlin Independents Guide, and the Network of Independent Berlin Project Spaces and Initiatives website.

Private collections As the community of galleries and project spaces became stronger, so too did the audiences and the number of collectors. Berlin’s infrastructure of art project spaces and initiatives, galleries, and temporary exhibitions has been enriched in recent years with private collectors coming to Berlin to open museums showcasing their collections. Berlin’s private collectors have a great taste for extravagant locations that add a novel ambient experience to their overall presentation: from Christian Boros who resides in a former World War 2 bunker (that was one of Berlin’s main techno clubs in the ‘90s) with works by Berlin-based artists such as Ai Wei Wei, Wolfgang Tillmans and Alicja Kwade, to the Dr. Thomas Olbricht collection on display at Me Collectors Room, and Axel Haubrok in the

29

former “Fahrbereitschaft” in Berlin-Lichtenberg. New to the list of private collections are the Julia Stoscheck Collection showing contemporary art with a focus on time-based media art, and the Feuerle Collection which specialises in Asian antiques. The Feuerle Collection was also one of many locations of the 9th Berlin Biennale.

The 9th Berlin Biennale 31 days. The Festival was founded on a voluntary basis

The 9th Berlin Biennale, titled ‘Present in Drag’ and

in 2014 by Nora Mayr, Lauren Reid and Marie Grafiteaux

curated by online collective DIS, created a centre of

of the project space Insitu. Its third edition, in 2016, was

debate about post-digital worlds in Berlin. They moved

funded by the Berlin City Tax.

between zones of contemporary fine art, design, fashion, communication and popular culture via the

Many of the spaces introduced their work and their individual concept of a project space by referring to the way that they deal with an uncertain relationship to location: it is often assumed that urban, social, and political developments of an increasingly gentrified city force project spaces to become nomadic, to become accustomed to the new habitus that is still in development in Berlin. In addition to the Project Space Festival, The Center of Minimum Distance was created to establish a common geographic centre calculated to be between all project spaces in Berlin (including those not participating in the Festival). The project space art scene is often hidden for an

Project Space Festival, Bruch & Dallas, 2016. Image credits: Joanna Kosowska Project Space Festival, 2016. Image Credits: André Wunstorf Feuerle Collection, Image Credits: Guan Xiao


internet to create a highly cohesive exhibition. The

from 25 countries that prides itself as the largest art

event, spread across a number of museums and

fair in Berlin – it is a wide-ranging showcase of

unlikely historic sites, gathered major attention from

affordable, innovative, contemporary artworks. Besides

national and international press as well as plenty of

Berliner Liste, there is Positions Art Fair which

visitors. Max Schreier (from Artsy Berlin and initiator of

concentrates on discovering new artistic directions,

project space Aunt Linda) believes that the 9th Berlin

and abc: art berlin contemporary, which differs from

Biennale presents Berlin’s point of transition: “The 9th

the regular art fair. Abc is an initiative born from the

Berlin Biennale was a well executed coda to a specific

collaboration of several Berlin galleries with a common

aesthetic that had an outsized role in defining early

interest in promoting Berlin as an art market and

twenty-first century art created both physically and

bringing its protagonists together. They are also the

conceptually in Berlin. There is not enough space in

organisers behind the famous Gallery Weekend in

Berlin, but I feel that the Biennale was a summary of a

April, in which more than fifty private galleries now

Berlin micro-period, and its completion allows for

participate with high-quality exhibitions. The weekend

artists to move beyond this period.”

brings in art lovers, collectors, and curators on

The lack of an important art fair

exclusive tours of Berlin’s diverse gallery scene. For a long time abc did not want to be known as an art fair. The emphasis was primarily on artists and

Installation View abc contemporary art fair, 2016. Image credits: Stefan Korte Daniel Knorr, Solo Bunker at abc contemporary art fair 2016. Image credits: Daniel Knorr and Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Wien Installation by Simon Mullan at the entrance of abc contemporary art fair, 2016. Image credits: Stefan Korte

With so many cultural events and a rich infrastructure

their practices, while galleries and their programmes

in the contemporary art scene, the question is – why

remained in the background. Abc works on an

doesn’t Berlin have a truly significant art fair? Art fairs

‘invitation only’ basis, and during its latest edition the

are part of art’s economic system as much as museums,

organisers chose only to show solo exhibitions. This

biennials, galleries, artist-run spaces, etc. Could Berlin

gave the artists a good opportunity to present

possibly survive without one?

themselves to the city. Instead of trying to create a

Founded in 2005, the Preview Art Fair was held in

glamorous trade fair, abc has a common-sense touch

Berlin’s former Tempelhof Airport, but closed its doors

while working within the trend of presenting artistic

in 2013. Now it is Berliner Liste with 112 exhibitors

practice in a greater depth. Almost three years ago the value added tax (VAT) raised from 7% to 19%, which is one of the reasons why participating in international art fairs became less interesting for young galleries. In an interview with Artsy, Claudia Rech from Gillmeier Rech acknowledges that “Fairs cost way too much and are hard to take part in as a younger gallery, and the VAT in Germany is extremely high.”5 There is a lack of government funding for galleries in the city despite the crucial role they


play in the intriguing Berlin art scene. Politics among galleries dwells on an unhealthy sense of competition. An art fair in Berlin can be quite threatening and risky for a Berlin gallery due to the international competition. The more local-oriented art community in Berlin has a direct relationship with artists and the collectors. That is one of the reasons why the Gallery Weekend in Berlin functions so successfully. With no governmental support the galleries do not have much of a choice but to organise inspiring shows in their own galleries instead of participating at expensive art fairs.

Staying local while being international According to Max Schreier, the question we should ask ourselves is not if Berlin needs an art fair, but rather what is the best format for inviting in external voices? “Events like Condo in London seem like they would do well in Berlin considering how fantastically Gallery Weekend functions and the uniqueness of our gallery spaces. I love the opportunity to see work from all over the world in my home city.”6 With events like the 9th Berlin Biennale, the Berlin art scene shifts from looking at local art production in a Berlin Art Prize 2016 Exhibition. Image Credits: Anastasia Muna

direction towards international allure that is fresh and exciting. A debate during the Berlin Art Week raised the question of whether such a large-scale exhibition

While initiatives such as the Berlin Art Prize, Project

format is appropriate when almost none of the many

Space Festival, Award for Art Project Spaces and

thousands of artists in Berlin are benefitting from it.

Initiatives, Berlin Art Week, and Gallery Weekend, remain supporters of the local Berlin art community,

In contrast to the Berlin Biennale, the organisers of the

together with the 9th edition of the Berlin Biennale

Berlin Art Prize felt the need to find a way to support

they have also brought in a new tendency in which

the Berlin-based artists. With thousands of artists

art-related events become ambitious forums for

living in Berlin it is becoming harder to find funding.

discussing political topics and commenting on the

The annual award, honoring contemporary art in

current state of society. Berlin is not only a great city

Berlin, was founded by four artists and cultural

for local art production; it has also grown into an

producers in 2013. In an interview with Bpigs, artist and

interesting place for urgent debates with creatives and

Berlin Art Prize initiator Zoë Miller said “it was a pity

thinkers from various fields of expertise.

that Berlin, as an art metropolis, only had these art prizes that were funded by unlikeable corporations, like

In Berlin, the museums’ programmes feed the constant

Vattenfall. And of course, the city’s artist grants are

buzz on social media, but they are often quite

inadequate, 15 awards for 10,000 artists in town and

mainstream and safe. They are often afraid to take big

you’re only allowed to apply every three years.”7

risks, and it is mainly the smaller galleries and art events that take the supposed role of art institutions.

What started as an idea to create an art prize that

Simultaneously, gallerists and art initiatives propose

works as an open call has now become a remarkable

increasingly ambitious exhibitions and projects that

exhibition and event, where three Berlin-based artists

make an impact on an international level.

are selected by the jury of local art professionals, and rewarded with a financial prize and a four-week

Even though the cost of living in Berlin is increasing, it

residency.

is still a more affordable place with less economic pressure than other vibrant art cities in the world.


The focus on the local art community will distinguish the Berlin art scene from others, but I am curious to see if Berlin, while holding onto experimentation and local art production, can create challenging works, exchange ideas, and establish collaborations within the international art community: a development that could turn into an interesting move towards more theoretical fields, as well as a critical approach to exhibiting and methods of production. I hope that art enterprising in Berlin is ready to take up the challenge to find new ways of building on the beautiful art landscape that Berlin already has. ■

References: 1  Hugill, Alison. ‘An interview with NON Berlin’, 2015. www.berlinartlink.com/2015/10/06/intersections-an-interview-with-non-berlin/ 2  Lovric, Adela. ‘Have You Met: Jan-Philipp Sexauer’, 2016. www. bpigs.com/diaries/interviews/have-you-met-jan-philipp-sexauer 3  Studie Berlin II, IFSE, Juni 2011 4  Abgeordnetenhaus - Drucksache Nr. 17/2400, 2015 5  Riojas, Laurie. ‘Berlin’s Young Galleries Hit By Uncertainty as Once-Scrappy City Grows Up’, 2016. www.artsy.net/article/artsyeditorial-berlin-s-young-galleries-hit-by-uncertainty-as-oncescrappy-city-grows-up 6  www.condocomplex.org 7  Lovric, Adela. ‘Have You Met: The Berlin Art Prize, 2015. www. bpigs.com/diaries/interviews/have-you-met-the-berlin-art-prize

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Links for more information: www.bpigs.com/spaces www.berlinartlink.com/resources/berlin-project-space-directory/ www.projektraeume-berlin.net www.berlin-artist.info www.projectspacefestival-berlin.com

Sarie Nijboer (born Wijhe, Netherlands, 1990) works in the intersecting fields of exhibition design, arts administration, writing, and curating. She holds a BA in Design from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. Since 2012 she has been organising exhibitions and developing different models of thinking and looking at art. She was Project Assistant for Supermarket 2013 – Stockholm Independent Art Fair. In November 2016 she started co-organising Conversas Berlin - an informal weekly forum for discussing a variety of projects and interests. Sarie currently resides in Berlin where she is the managing editor at Bpigs – Berlin Independents Guide, and is assistant to Dutch artist Iris van Dongen. Photo: Lidian van Megen


BONNIERS KONSTHALL SUSAN PHILIPSZ LOST IN SPACE

22 FEB 7 MAJ BONNIERSKONSHALL.SE FRI ENTRÉ


The Stockholm Shuffle

Power Ekroth

It was like a bomb went off when the news hit Stockholm’s art scene that the new director of Bonniers Konsthall would be Magnus af Petersen, previous curator of Moderna Museet. Or maybe... not really? boards in order to share knowledge and contacts – it’s for Because who really is surprised by

the sake of art and the audience.”

‘more of the same’? We are quite used to

34

this in Stockholm – this game we might

It’s a bit uncertain, however, exactly

call ‘The Stockholm Shuffle’. It is rooted

what great benefits the audience

so well that in an interview exactly ten

gains from the same phone numbers

years ago, the former director of Mod-

being exchanged between the same

erna Museet, Lars Nittve, interviewed

people over and over again. All of

by Dagens Industri when his six-year

which leaves us guessing who will be

term was about to expire (naturally he

filling the gap left by af Petersen at

later received a three year extension),

the Moderna. Will it be Theodor Ringborg

commented on the fact that he was both

from Bonniers Konsthall? Or maybe Richard

director of the Modern Museum and on

Julin from Magasin 3? With the Stockholm

the board of Bonniers Konsthall: ”It is a

Shuffle boards we can be certain it will be

bit of a tradition in our world that you are on each other’s

more of the same anyway. ■


Grand Tour of 2017 POWER EKROTH

This year’s Grand Tour will take the travelling art world circus to Documenta in both Athens and Kassel, Skulpturprojekte in Münster, the Venice Biennial, and later this autumn to the Istanbul biennial. Not all of us will be able to afford such elaborate travels, and we might have to pick and choose from this symphony of landmark exhibitions. The biennial-aficionados complain not only because of heightened travel costs, but the split of Documenta has been controversial from the start. In Kassel, one is unhappy some might go to Athens instead of Kassel, and in Athens there are other concerns, such as what Yanis Varoufakis, the former Finance Minister in Greece, voiced in 2015, that it might turn into something like ‘crisis tourism’, and that it is a ‘gimmick’ to exploit the tragedy in Greece – ‘doing Documenta in Athens is like rich Americans taking a tour in a poor African country’. Someone else who is not entirely happy about Documenta is the Athens Biennial who, after the economic collapse, lost its budgets but not its office space. This is the same office space that the Documenta team is also using, and with its budget reaching more than 60 million Euros, they have also been able to pay better wages, so naturally Documenta has been ‘stealing’ the project managers from the biennial. Very close to the building where the Athens Biennial and Documenta share digs, you can fi nd a graffiti written in large letters ‘Documenta go home!’ Why the curator of Documenta, Adam Szymczyk, chose to place one leg of the colossal German exhibition project in Greece might at fi rst seem to have symbolic value in Germany, giving something back to Greece after forcing them into the fi nancial crisis, or acknowledging the birthplace of democracy, or something way more complicated that art-speak curators at large seem to spin. But there is at least one other really weighty reasons, and that has to do with Szymczyk’s personal life. As he is married to a Greek woman reluctant to move to Germany ... he simply moved the mountain to her instead. ■

ONLINE APPLICATION OPENS IN SEPTEMBER 2017 www.supermarketartfair.com

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Tove Jansson, Loboan (Självporträtt), 1942, olja, privatsamling. Foto: Finlands Nationalgalleri / Yehia Eweis. © Tove Jansson

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www.goteborgskonstmuseum.se

Profile for Supermarket – Stockholm Independent Art Fair

Supermarket Art Magazine #7  

The exhibition catalogue of Supermarket – Stockholm Independent Art Fair 2017 bounds together with the artist-run Supermarket Art Magazine....

Supermarket Art Magazine #7  

The exhibition catalogue of Supermarket – Stockholm Independent Art Fair 2017 bounds together with the artist-run Supermarket Art Magazine....