The gallery's international programme concentrates on contemporary photography complemented by painting and installation. The focus is on artists dealing with space, time and identity. Since 2008 high calibre exhibitions in terms of both aesthetics and content have been realised in fruitful relationship with the historical architecture of the gallery's location: Karl-Marx-Allee in Berlin.
Statement: The Galerist’s Road Ahead
Gallery relocation denotes a settlement in two respects and after four years of the global economic crisis, I believe that the question of ones point of view is mandatory. It is no coincidence that in the recent autumn issue of “Texte zur Kunst”, Isabelle Graw addresses the notion of the demise of art criticism. Thus, today we have museums without acquisition budgets, company collections that now sell their works, a tax increase for art. So what remains?
Firstly it is important to note that with the 2008 economic crisis, an art market crisis also began, whose end we are yet to experience. Although the auction houses experienced a short-term low in 2009, they are now doing better than ever and Art Fair giants such as Art Basel and Frieze continue to attract a very elite circle interested in contemporary art. And yet the regular art market remains crippled. It appears symptomatic when the “average” artist – given they are not a star – is seen as more of a risk or even worse, a source of irritation, within a profession that as a matter of principal ought live from the creative output of its artists.
So what went wrong? Mind you, in the first instance it is important to emphasise that contemporary galleries have since assumed governmental duties by offering cultural engagement and education that was previously provided for by the State. Nonetheless with sinking budgets, the State has fallen short with its responsibilities. And equally so, as a gallerist, one can’t afford to become tired. Operating a gallery actually requires more energy than running a business – it is in all its facets a cultural engagement based on risk and private funding. It is quintessential that a great part of this endeavour is the support of unknown artists, a staying power beyond trends and an understanding of artists as partners. In the long run one can best expect to form real friendships from these business relationships.
However, for many years now, our society has experienced an ever-increasing need to measure cost-effectiveness in every sphere of life.
This process is also not alien to the spiritual, intellectual and immaterial world of art. Everything is subject to a cost-benefit analysis. Where previously, trust – and often equally, errors – reigned, today everything is number-crunched. Amazon demonstrates this with its e-books: a work is placed online without a publisher and if the download numbers are good, the work will be printed, so in fact the marketplace is the decision maker. A model like this is difficult to implement in the art market and it is contrary, in my opinion, to how a gallery ought to function. What cultural use for future generations is there if it is all about the gratification of immediate needs?
From my point of view, the Global Economic Crisis has made it clear that art ought be devoid of what I’ll term cost-effectiveness cerebration. One does not open a gallery in order to suddenly become rich or for a status boost. Gallerists ought to be marathon runners and set an alternative benchmark to the prevailing ingrained liberalism – this unites them with the world of art. And what actually needs reclaiming is respect for the artist, even if it appears that the achieved results may be cumbersome, unpleasant or pointless.
With the inauguration of these new premises I would like to focus further on the intensive collaborations with my artists, in both conceptual and friendship terms. I feel this is the foundation from which a gallery reaps its success. Mind you, this is not to be confused with altruism. My desire in the new gallery rooms is to continue to work professionally, but to develop an open space devoid of arrogance, whose foremost objective is intellectual discourse.
Cai Wagner, January 2013
Media contact: Nadine Dinter, public relations
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