During The Armory Show, which overtake New York every year with a wave of creative events, Arterritory.com had the pleasure to arrange an express interview with Jacob Fabricius, the esteemed director of Malmö Konsthall. Fabricius curated this year’s Armory Focus Group, an invitation-only gallery section that highlighted the current art scene of the Nordic countries – Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.
How did you become a part of this project?
Last summer The Armory Show asked me to be involved in the Focus Group, and I started working on different proposals. Some of them were realised and some were not. One idea was that I would do the show in a lavatory. I thought about this because it doesn’t matter if you are a student, a VIP guest or the wealthiest person in the world, you do need to use a toilet. Well, that was one of the ideas, which for various different reasons, couldn’t be realised (laughs).
Had you visited the Armory Show beforehand?
I hadn’t been to the Armory Show since (thinking)... the late 90’s. It was difficult to picture the space and how it would function.
How did you form your opinion on which galleries to include in the Armory Focus section?
My selection criteria consisted of three different ways of running a gallery or starting an exhibition space. Basically, I wanted to include established galleries that had existed for a long time, galleries that had opened in the last year or so, and artist-run or non-profit spaces, because they are now a vital part of the art market in the North. My aim was to show a mixture, a variety of different organisations. Of course, there was a limited number of how many galleries one could select.
Did you approach the participating galleries, or did they apply themselves?
For some galleries, this was their first application for the Armory Show. Some had applied this year for the general section. Some had previously participated in this fair. Of course, there were also galleries that, for various different reasons, declined their participation – they either didn’t have the money or they were part of other fairs. And some applied too late.
I heard that in some cases, you even advised galleries which artists to exhibit.
There were galleries that represented artists who I thought would be interesting to show here. Some galleries did send proposals. But there were also a few that had their hands completely free. The approaches were different, and I thought that it was interesting to have it like that. D.O.R. in Brussels, for example, is run by three Norwegian artists; their concept for this fair surrounded the notion of selling their gallery as a certificate. Anyone could go and buy the gallery and use it as a franchise.
Actually, my most important contribution was the poster and souvenir project [Free Stuff]. I had this idea of giving things out. Usually when you come to an art fair, you pay your ticket, you get into the event, but you can’t take things out unless you pay dollars. So, here I thought it would be interesting if people who were present at the fair could actually bring something home with them, and maybe even start their small collection of posters or free stuff.
The Free Stuff project was completely separate from the galleries. Many different artists created these objects – some were represented by galleries at the Armory Focus, others were not part of the fair, and some were produced by people who are not represented by any gallery.
What are your thoughts now, when you see this all fulfilled?
I thought it was beautiful when on the first day in the Free Stuff section, there were these toilet paper rolls with “Angst” written on them. It was quite amazing seeing all of them disappear… and later noticing them walking around in Gucci bags – women with their small handbags and “Angst” in them. I thought that was great (laughs).