Being the Meetings Coordinator suits me very well. As soon as the fair began the memory of weeks of stress and anxiety fell away and I throughly enjoyed dashing around introducing myself to all the moderators/hosts and seeing names of the exhibitors who had signed up for particular meetings.
I have always liked the idea of meetings: for me they are places where people get together and make things happen – what is not to like? Of course there are meetings that are good and those that are bad – that should go without saying but many people (including some friends) judge meetings to be generally tedious and an unnecessary waste of time. For me nothing could be further from the truth! I find it amazing to be given time and space to talk about something with a group of people who in one way or another have something invested in the subject. So being able to offer the opportunity to small groups of international artists for them to discuss topics such as the social role of artist-run organisations, sustainability, archiving, collaborations, networking, how artist-run organisations can better serve artists, and acting on activism, was a sheer delight.
Many of the meetings were fully subscribed however I was able to sit in and participate in one or two. In fact I ended up co-moderating the last meeting in the programme when the moderator failed to show up (she was in deep discussion with a visitor to her booth and lost track of time apparently). Luckily the topic – the social role of artist-run organisations – is something that I have been thinking about and have opinions on. So did my spontaneous co-moderator a brilliant artist, curator, activist from Latvia. Together we lead an interesting meeting in which participants both reflected on past projects and discussed future ambitions inspired by hearing others’ experiences and ideas.
Although the meetings have an agenda (the topic or subject) there are no expected outcomes. That said most meetings ended with people exchanging contact details, I even heard some definite invitations for mutual visits and interest in collaborations. On a couple of occasions I had to remind people that there would shortly be another meeting needing the room … it was hard to stem the flow of excited chatter.
The wonderful (though sometimes terrible) thing about meetings is their immediacy. Different from someone presenting a talk and taking questions meetings are even more in the moment. One moderator told me that she felt bad for things going off subject. I spoke with some of the meeting’s participants who clearly enjoyed the diversion, and was able to reassure the moderator that the meeting had been appreciated precisely because it was able to take up points that arose during its course.
For the first time in the nine years that I have worked with Supermarket I had a role during the actual fair, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The 2022 fair is scheduled for late May, and despite the quick turn around I am already looking forward to being Meetings Coordinator again. Being an active member of the team over the fair gave me an even deeper understanding and appreciation of just how special a group of people it is that makes this fair happen – from the directors who were on site at 6 am the morning after the very late finishing VIP opening to collect the last of the rubbish and open up for the cleaners and refuge collectors, to the 38 volunteers who staffed the front desk, took care of the exhibitors’ lounge, assisted with the talks, performance, and meetings programmes, kept the fair looking neat and tidy, and helped with any number of other tasks. The fair was perhaps one of the best examples of what Swedes proudly call a ’flat hierarchy’.
I returned to Enköping late on Monday evening after helping dismantle the fair. I was exhausted and happy having spent a week with a fantastic collection of artists some of whom I have known since before I moved here, some of whom I met for the first time. What all these artists have in common is seemingly limitless curiosity, enthusiasm, passion, and commitment. Without wishing to sound arrogant I felt as though I belonged there.
Applications are now open for the 2022 fair, all artist-run galleries and initiatives are invited to apply. More information and details at www.supermarketartfair.com
In other news …
Four years after our show Hit (Målhammer Gallery 2018), Klas and I will be exhibiting together again. This time at the Enköping Town Gallery in autumn 2022. I was really pleased to be asked to show there by the chair of the committee (in full disclosure – a committee that I sit on, and have done so since 2016). Initially I was a little put out that he suggested I find someone to share the show with, however I trust his judgement and thought that a two person show could be good if I found the right person to show with. After thinking about various other artists, some of whom are good friends, I realised that an ideal partner would be Klas. Our work, though very different, works well together, and we both have recognisable connections to Enköping which should make it a popular show. I look forward to working and exhibiting with Klas again!