Supermarket Day 4
This is the first day that the fair is open to the public. It is immediately and surprisingly busy. A friend is supposed to come during her lunch-break, unfortunately she is delayed and arrives just as Michael and I are heading off to the Market fair. (Market is the commercial gallery fair held at Akademien – the art academy – a 15 minutes walk from Kulturhuset.) Going around the fair with Michael was good, he had arranged to meet one of the galleries he knows to see the work of an artist he is interested to work with in the future. I was also pleased to be able to introduce him to the galleries that I know here. As we reached the end of the fair Michael commented on how ”cool” it all was, not cool as in trendy but in other senses – the confidence, the palette, the feeling of the work. It is remarkable that this coolness is almost consistent throughout the fair. To me this is one of the most appealing aspects of the Scandinavian art scene – an alternative to so much flash and spectacular work. It’s not only the work that is cool, the galleries and gallerists are cool too. This kind of cool is something that I think (I hope) has the kind of integrity that I have been looking for.
It was interesting to see artists from last year’s graduation shows being presented at Market. I’m sure that galleries at Frieze show their new artists too, however with so many less graduates (and galleries) it is easier to spot them.
There isn’t any coverage of the art fairs in the national newspapers. Roberto’s Mosquito Choir are pictured in the local morning paper which is great however the text says that they will perform tonight, when they actually performed last night at the opening.
After Michael and I come back to the stand Roberto and Cecile go to Market and also to Magnus Karlsson galleri where an artist Michael has worked with is in a group show. The show also includes an artist from the gallery where Roberto works part-time. We play ‘tag’ one more time and when they return from the fair and show Michael and I make a quick trip to the gallery. I really liked Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s paintings and she’s a really charming woman too! We – the MOCA London group – planned to meet with the gallery group for a drink after their dinner but the dinner lasted longer than the pub hours so it didn’t happen.
Supermarket Day 2
Day 2 did not start well. After such a successful day installing Play I was expecting a similar enjoyable and productive day. Almost as soon as I arrived Pontus (one of the Supermarket organisers) told me that there was a problem with Play but that I should not worry, he said he would come back when everyone was there so we could talk about it. He went to do something else. Then Estella from Kulturhuset arrived on the scene and said that it was likely that Play would have to be taken down and could not be shown elsewhere due to the combustible nature of the videotape. After explaining that the installation had been cleared by Supermarket we decided the best thing was to get everyone together to try and resolve the situation. I was more confused than stressed. It is good that I am a calm person.
Eventually, and after a less than helpful phone conversation via Estella, the chief of security arrived. The problem was not actually my work but its proximity to the glass surround the spiral staircase. The concern was that in the event of the fire the heat generated by the burning videotape might cause the glass to crack. It was explained that the glass is original (from the 1970s) and therefore not up to today’s standards. I understood that however I was a bit concerned as it was also explained that the spiral staircase is a principle exit route in case of fire. It still doesn’t sound right that a large public building can have a fire route that does not meet fire regulations, the glass in question is only ‘georgian-wire’ glass it’s not as though there isn’t a modern version that would look identical.
In the end I agreed to move Play so that it was never closer to the glass than 1.2 meters. It was either that or not show it at all. Moving it significantly altered how it worked and how it looked in the space, however I felt as though I did not have another (viable) option.
The rest of the day went well but my mood was rather flattened by the morning’s events. Roberto and I had done everything we were asked to do in advance of installing the piece, we’d sent details of the materials, dimensions and the proposed location. It seems that there was a break down in communication between Supermarket and the security department at Kulturhuset.
News of the controversial artwork spread around Kulturhuset – Hampus met a former tutor of his who was working on an exhibition in another part of building and she asked what he knew about this “dangerous artwork”. Part of me feels that I should not have compromised, however the greater part of me feeling that I took the best decision in bad circumstances. I am also aware that should I want to work with either Supermarket OR Kulturhuset again I will have far better chances than if I had been angry and difficult.
I ran in to Estella many times over the course of the fair and she was always friendly and went out of her way to help me with things that she was not really responsible for.
I am aware that artists can easily gain reputations for being difficult to work with. I always try to avoid this no matter where and with whom I am working. However in Stockholm I am (perhaps too) aware that I am also a foreigner and don’t want to risk scuppering international artistic relations! Once again I am very grateful that Hampus was there with me to translate.
After helping me with the installation Hampus also helped Roberto and Cecile. I was concerned that Roberto’s sauna was very absent, and was then amazed at how quickly he was able to create it.
Supermarket Day 1 (inc Day 0 and -1)
Play is almost installed at Supermarket. The location on the third floor is very good, not least because of the view from the adjacent window. Play hangs diagonally between the glass walls around a wide spiral staircase and the floor to ceiling windows at the front of Kulturhuset. The entire front of Kulturhuset is glass and the Supermarket exhibition hall over looks Sergels torg with its wonderful glass sculpture. The sculpture is illuminated at night (it has lights inside it) and it looks spectacular against the darkening Stockholm sky. It’s a wonderful backdrop to my installation!
Roberto is remarkably calm considering that he hasn’t been able to get on with much as he’s had to wait for the installation of the additional walls he ordered.
Cecile is waiting until the construction work is completed before hanging her delicate sculptures.
After hearing about their work I am really looking forward to seeing it. The technical support I received was great – a man in a ‘cherry picker’ put up the chains in no time. I’m very glad that I was able to prepare so much before hand. I’m used to working on my own but I couldn’t have done today without Hampus’ assistance.
I met Roberto at the framers. Jean-Noel (the framer) was very good and it was useful to have Roberto there too as getting work framed is new to me. I probably would have chosen the same frame myself but I would have gone for the thinnest option, however it was pointed out to me that the medium weight looked more better and made the work in to an object rather than a framed print. I collect it tomorrow thanks to Jean Noel making it a priority.
Hampus and I borrowed a friend’s car to buy the necessary hardware – two pre-cut lengths of shelf, paint, brackets and screws. I’m very pleased that Hampus is able to assist me, his ability not only to translate but also to understand what I’m trying to achieve is invaluable when discussing options with store staff. I did managed to ask for the staples for my staple gun myself …
The last photograph was taken at Heathrow on my way to Sweden, my book caught the light while I was reading at the departure gate
This time next week I’ll be in Stockholm preparing for Supermarket Art Fair. I’m getting there a bit early (two days) because I know that I need time to settle before starting work. We start the actual setting up of the stand and my installation on Tuesday. I’ve seen pictures of where it will be- it’s a narrower space than I imagined. This means the work could be deeper and more cube like, I’ll make that decision when I’m actually there. Last week I bought a suitcase for the piece and this morning I started packing. I called BA just to check that it’s alright to pack ‘art materials’ in luggage, of course they said it’s fine – I didn’t explain that the materials are several hundred (thousand?) meters of gay porn videotape. Does checked in luggage get x-rayed like cabin baggage?
I started looking at the list of other exhibitors and found some very interesting organisations and groups. Now that I’m establishing myself in Sweden I want to be a bit more focussed on meeting people and finding out what they do. There are a couple of artists’ clubs and joining one (or two) would be a good way to meet more artists and it would also force me to improve my Swedish.
It’s all very good timing as a piece of work that is currently in Stockholm might be the one chosen for a group show in London in March. So I can take Play over there and bring Glory back!