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Monopoly. Photo: Matti Östling

Thinking Outside of the Booth 0

Alida Ivanov from Stockholm

There has been an art fair-boom worldwide, and Stockholm is a follower in the phenomena. In the past couple of years we have seen an affordable art fair, an online art fair, and now, a photography fair (PhotoMarket). This opens up questions of, on the one hand, economy and creative presentation, and on the other, integrity. When the press tries to capture the essence of this weekend, now known as Stockholm Art Week, they often compare MARKET to Supermarket, but the situation is more complex than that. 

It boils down to Stockholm's suitability for fairs, and if it is actually large enough to hold this many fairs, which also is a question that comes up at this time of year. Furthermore, do the galleries actually sell works of art at the fairs? If you have a gallery in the same city as a fair, do you actually reach a new audience?

What about galleries taking part in Supermarket, a fair with no commercial goal?

And, are the creative goals being met?

These are all legitimate questions that should be kept in mind when walking around the fairs, exhibitions, and events.

Back in 2006, when MARKET ran for the first time, it was seen as elitist; as a result, it spurred a counter-reaction – Minimarket, which is now called Supermarket Art Fair. The latter focused on artist-run spaces from all over the world. To understand what happened, one has to go further back – to the art climate in Stockholm and Sweden as a whole. There are three types of galleries in the city: commercial – a system which is about 30 years old now and is run by galleries on an international level; hobbyist, which is a gallery without a gallerist – it’s a space which one can rent and there is less curatorial ambition; and artist-driven, in which there is an artist/curator group that runs, usually, a non-commercial space.  And of course, there are hybrids within these very generalized groups. Until 2005, there was only one art fair in Stockholm that contained all of these companies and organizations with their different goals and audiences.

Participant at MARKET - Galerie Forsblom (Stockholm)

MARKET is the art fair that prides itself in being one of the leading fairs in the Nordic countries. It has thrived on the idea of creating a fair that would see to the commercial galleries’ interests and to the implementation of a selection process.  Though the name can be seen as ironic, it came from the idea that there isn’t anything wrong in selling art and having that as a goal; a gallery is like any company and therefore, it should be treated as such. The fair has not really grown in size since then, which is due to the fair being held at Konstakademin. Between Nationalmuseum moving in, and all of the different compartments of the fair (MARKET Emerging, MARKET XL, MARKET at Large, MARKET Talks, MARKET Multiples and Editions), it was a very confusing experience to walk around in. What was interesting was how the galleries responded to this by having solo showings in their booths. This added continuity to the fair.  The Stockholm-based gallery Andréhn-Schiptjenko has taken part in MARKET ever since the fair's start in 2006. They have used MARKET as a platform in showcasing upcoming exhibitions. This year the gallery has a solo showing of Uta Barth in their booth.  Wetterling Gallery showed plushy weaponry by Linda Bäckström in a baroque, red setting, Nordenhake showed a video and sculptures by Berlin-based Sofia Hultén, Stockholm and Oslo-based Riis Gallery showed aquarelles by Christine Ödlund, Finnish Galleria Heino showed paintings by Erno Enkenberg, and the list continues. But what are the reasons behind actually being a part of this small fair, when many of the participating galleries do larger, international fairs?

The focus of MARKET this year was its Emerging Galleries. Six galleries, mostly Swedish ones, showed on the fourth floor of the building (while the other galleries were on the second floor). Here the solo shows continued: drawings by Ragnar Persson at the Stockholm gallery SteinslandBerliner, photos and video by David Molander at Cecilia Hillström Gallery, and Copenhagen-based Henningsen Gallery showed Lea Porsager. The other three galleries featured two to four artists each: AnnaElleGallery from Stockholm showed work by Olof Inger and Josh Tonsfeldt, Kant Gallery from Copenhagen showed Christoph Knecht, Rune Elgaard Mortensen, and Lars Worm; and Anna Thulin Gallery from Stockholm showed Love E Lundell,

Tina Nykvist, Anne Marte Overaa, and Sara Wallgren. Four out of the six galleries in Emerging were Stockholm-based. This is a reoccurring critique of MARKET – that it’s too Stockholm-oriented.

The program around MARKET is extensive, which is, of course, a good thing. It makes people come back. However, the space is too small for that type of extensive program; to have two parts of the fair with the names XL and At Large feels like a joke, because there is nothing “XL” about Konstakademin. The Alyson Shotz piece (courtesy of Galleri Andersson Sandström) was amazing, but it felt cramped in that space. Maybe MARKET has outgrown Konstakademin, without realizing it? 

Monopoly. Photo: Matti Östling


Monopoly was the initiative of five galleries: Christian Andersen, (Copenhagen), Gallery Niklas Belenius (Stockholm), Johan Berggren Gallery (Malmö), Crystal (Stockholm), and Elastic Gallery, (Malmö).  Most of these have participated in MARKET in previous years. This is not a fair, which became clear once you entered the rundown bank at Norrmalmstorg. Monopoly is an exhibition in which five galleries joined together artists from each gallery in a non-themed show, with the help of curator Beata von Oelreich and scenography by Albert France-Lanord. Here there was a will to show art in a more creative way, rather than confining it to stalls in a fair and placing different galleries, artists and art next to each other on different sides of booth-walls. It was refreshing, in the context of the art fair-week.

Monopoly. Photo: Matti Östling

The goal is for Monopoly to become a returning event, which will be exciting to see. On the downside, it can become a case of too many cooks (that spoil the broth), but there was a pleasant atmosphere among the galleries, for now. Participating artists in the show were: Dave Allen, Willem Andersson, Alfred Boman, Mihuț Boșcu, Luca Frei, Goldin+Senneby, Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Maria Hedlund, Lars TCF Holdhus, Yngve Holen, Institutt for Degenerert Kunst, Aaron King, Camilla Løw, Per Mårtensson Rolf Nowotny, Pind, Evan Roth, and Astrid Svangren. I would like to have seen a list of works, but the whole view of the show was very easy on the eyes. 

Participant at Supermarket - Nest, Netherlands. Artist: Jeroen Jongeleen, "Iditots", 2012. Press photo

Supermarket, with its 87 artist-run spaces from 33 different countries, was housed at Kulturhuset this year. There is a strain of inferiority complex to this fair because they always compare themselves to MARKET. This comes out in the vocabulary used by the organizers, which usually circulates around by emphasizing in what ways they differ from the other fair in terms of spontaneity, organization and creativity. But, at the same time, you can’t spell “supermarket” without “market”.

What is great about this fair is the international platform it creates. This aspect feels like it captures the zeitgeist perfectly – no borders, no differences. Here we see a spectrum of spaces from all over the world, which makes it fun to visit. It is a very uneven fair, including in terms of quality, but that’s a part of the experience. Supermarket prides itself on the non-commercialization of the fair, which is strange because the point of a fair is to gather people together in order to trade goods. With that being said, there was one stall that actually sold handbags…for the sake of art.

Participant at Supermarket - Totaldobže, Latvia. Photo: Alida Ivanov

Among the other spaces you could visit, there was Totaldobze from Riga, which invited viewers to participate in their “Laboratory of Perception”. The visitor would watch different videos and then fill in a questionnaire. There was an interaction with the visitor and an activation process in which you needed to actually think about what you had just seen.  The space ÿ, from Minsk, had a show discussing the role of the artist. Kings ARI from Melbourne showed work by Swedish artist Johanna Nordin; she wasn’t present for the installation of the work, but had given specific instructions on how to show her work. 

Outside, on Sergels Torg, visitors were met with a large, inflatable black arm, made by Stockholm-based Paola Urbano. Here, we can really talk about “at large”. Even though the piece was not one of my favorites of the day, I really appreciated the in-your-face-feeling of it, and that Supermarket, as a fair, was thinking outside of the box, or booth, in this case.