‘In the art world, as in the wider world, community can provide an answer to some fundamental problems,’ says Vanessa Carlos, sitting in her East London gallery Carlos/Ishikawa. ‘The dissolution of community is happening at every level. We have to hold on to it in any way we can.’
Innovative responses outside the art community to entrenched financial problems – whether cohousing, where housing space is shared and community activities and decision-making are prioritized, or crowdsourcing the purchase of debt and then cancelling it – should motivate others. ‘When complaining about over-commercialization and homogenization, all levels have to take responsibility for the way things are now, including artists and collectors,’ adds Carlos. ‘People are moaning about the way things are, and are shocked when galleries close, but then they need to support us too’.
Carlos founded the ‘collaborative exhibition’ Condo in 2016 partly as a response to the repeated closures of galleries in art centres worldwide, the result of a polarized market wrestling with rent hikes and fair fees. It is also ‘a reaction to an over-commercialized setting for commercial galleries, proposing a slower way of looking that isn’t scrolling down a blog or blasting down the aisle of an art fair,’ she says – so in essence, part of a broader slow movement calming a quickening cultural pulse. A New York version of Condo began earlier this year, with new Condos launching in Shanghai and Mexico City in 2018. Similar projects inspired partly by Condo – Ruberta in Los Angeles and Okey Dokey in Dusseldorf and Cologne – debuted this September.
Though these arrangements might not be legally formalized, galleries can mould cooperative-style models to fit. Condo’s galleries in effect share infrastructure, marketing and relationship development costs, running for around a month with 36 international galleries in 15 London spaces this year. There is no participation fee, host galleries all shoulder the costs of the opening party, and subsequently pocket any individual profits they make. Carlos emails a rubric of organizational advice upon request, but says it is not indefinitely expandable. ‘I don’t want to do Condo 50 times a year, but you’re welcome to develop the same model in your city,’ says Carlos. ‘I share all my information and say good luck.’ Read more