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Kobel's Art Weekly

Head of Contemporary Istanbul Ali Güreli and Jeff Koons; photo Stephan Kobel
Head of Contemporary Istanbul Ali Güreli and Jeff Koons; photo Stephan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 38 2022

Werner Remm reports on a large sales exhibition in aid of Ukrainehilfe as part of the Berlin Art Week at Artmagazine: "'Ukrainian Voices of Art' is a benefit sales exhibition of contemporary Ukrainian art at Berlin Art Week by and for Be an Angel e.V. It benefits the artists and the association, which has been able to evacuate more than 12,000 people from Ukrainian war zones since the beginning of March purely through donations."

Among other things, Elena Witzeck visited the Positions art fair during Berlin Artweek for the FAZ: "Berlin is once again an international art market location! Neustart Kultur, the rescue fund, also supported the fair, the Minister of State for Culture's wish to do so: Promotion of young artists, sustainability, diversity. A gallery from Ukraine is taking part and five countries bordering on Ukraine are represented. The focus on Eastern Europe has been supported by the Senate of Economics, even if there is not too much Ukrainian on show. As at the Gallery Weekend, money is being collected for the "Be an Angel" association, which supports refugees. Much of what is on show here is colourful, compatible and affordable. Here and there it becomes political".

The typical Berlin fate threatens the Uferhallen, whose residents will probably be able to present themselves there for the last time, as Christian Herchenröder writes in his coverage of Berlin Art Week for the Handelsblatt: "An important exhibition for Berlin as an art location is taking place in the Uferhallen in Wedding, an area where many of the 80 studios of 150 artists are threatened because expensive flats and office space are to be built here from 2023: built in, built over and crowned by a high-rise building. The whole thing looks like creeping displacement. With the exhibition 'On Equal Terms' in the central hall, artists address their precarious situation. One of the main objects in this show is a money machine by Stefan Alber, in which coins are transported on conveyor belts as a symbol of constant greed for money."

Tobias Langley-Hunt celebrates the first major appearance of the nomadic project The Fairest, which originates from Berlin, in the Tagesspiegel: "The most exciting concept, however, is probably an art fair format that calls itself 'The Fairest' and makes the name its programme: Under the title 'Open Your Eyes Again', around 60 artists have been selected and exhibited by the organisers and curators Eleonora Sutter and Georgina Pope. Most of the young artists are not represented by galleries, so they are represented here independently - which also means that they can keep 60 percent of the proceeds for themselves in the event of a sale. [...] The 'fair' in The Fairest, however, refers not only to the distribution of profits, but also to a value system that drives Pope and Sutter. They want to offer a platform to young artists, to support and promote them, independent of established institutions and a hierarchically structured art market." Whether ten percent in the distribution of profits really makes the decisive difference between fair community thinking and the implicitly unfair classical gallery model remains to be seen. In the end, it seems to be about a business relationship that is as lean as possible and saves on cost-intensive catalogue production, collector support and cooperation with museums.

The only current German-language coverage of Contemporary Istanbul seems to have come from me, and can be read at Artmagazine.

Josie Thaddaeus-Johne investigated for Artsy which galleries participate in most art fairs in September and October. The front-runners Perrotin and David Zwirner take part in six events - in these two months alone! This illustrates the gap between gallery groups and the army of medium-sized galleries, which are increasingly limiting themselves to two or three fairs a year.

Why the art market is not at all as crazy as most people believe is explained very plausibly by Kolja Reichert in the preprint of a chapter of his new book in the FAS of 18 September: "So why do ten million more or less for a work of art provoke us more than the increase in the great fortunes themselves? Because we obviously don't want to understand the message. For decades, the art market has formed a bloodcurdling cry for help: the cry for help of capitalism. But instead of listening, we insult the messenger. It is indirectly also our fortunes that are negotiated at the auctions, the value of our existences, our influence, our power, in other words, above all, our powerlessness. But we are content with seats in the audience, booing and demanding that people stop holding up mirrors to us. We act as guardians of real values: of an art we don't understand and of the naïve idea of a fair market or a market-free world that never existed. And are not even able to look after our own money. In that sense, the art market is completely rational. It is the world that is out of joint. But art can't solve that. That's what people have to take care of."

Claire Koron Elat introduces the online art association Super Super Markt as a new mediation model in an interview with Julius Jacobi, one of the founders, at Monopol: "Super Super Markt functions like a community in which anyone can participate, regardless of whether you've been collecting for years or are brand new. You pay a membership fee of 50 euros per year and receive a 'super gift', i.e. an edition, as is often the case with art associations. That's why we call ourselves an 'online art association'. For 2021/22, the 'Supergabe' was an edition by Tobias Spichtig. The next edition will be by Michail Pirgelis. So members start collecting just by being members. The works we show on the website are both editions and unique pieces and are available exclusively to members. Here the price segment is quite diverse.[...] We take a percentage that is much better for the artists than in a classical gallery. Some of them don't even have a gallery yet and are at the very beginning of their career. That's how we finance ourselves, because the membership fees go entirely into the production and payment of the 'Supergabe'."

Christiane Fricke from the Handelsblatt likes the cooperation between the auction houses Karl & Faber in Munich and Van Ham: "The marketing initiative under the label "Auction Alliance" seems sensible and certainly overdue in view of the increasing concentration processes under strong international competitive pressure. The concentration process in Europe fed by "Bonhams" takeovers and the increasingly fierce competition for consignors, especially by the German market leader Ketterer Kunst and Sotheby's branch in Cologne, are worth mentioning."

Money certainly plays a role in the question of how political art can, should or must be, Till Fellrath, co-director of the Hamburger Bahnhof, states in a guest article in the Tagesspiegel on the occasion of the documenta discussion: "Politicisation in art also has another aspect. Cultural budgets are increasingly questioned, not only against the background of the energy crisis. The question of whether the federal government should continue to finance documenta also politicises the institution. Incidents are used as leverage to steer a cultural institution in a certain direction. At Hamburger Bahnhof, the future of the Rieckhallen is currently at stake (the halls belong to the real estate company CA Immo, which is threatening to demolish them, editor's note). The question of a possible exchange of buildings will soon be discussed in the relevant committees. The question is: Are the politicians committed to art, will they release the necessary resources? If not, the exhibition space of the Hamburger Bahnhof will be halved, and with it the space for a free artistic and social discourse."

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