Collectors, Re-mark Your Calendars: Independent Brussels Is Moving to the Fall

With an unexpected date change, the fair is moving into a different season, with a program seeking break from tradition and become a "festival of engagement."

Independent Brussels, 2018. Courtesy of Independent Brussels.

For its third edition, Independent Brussels is jumping ahead from its usual springtime slot alongside Art Brussels and setting out on its own. The fair will now take place in the fall of 2018, running November 8–11.

In New York, since 2010, Independent has operated like an avant-garde satellite to the Armory Show, offering a more experimental format and switching it up each year with a small edition of 50 galleries and a high turnover of participants. Independent Brussels used to play the same role alongside Art Brussels, but the fair is breaking its own rules again.

When the fair, which was founded by gallerist Elizabeth Dee, appointed curator Vincent Honoré late last year, it was clear that their Brussels edition was bracing for conceptual changes to move beyond the traditional fair format. It is unusual for a curator to organize an entire fair (they usually curate single sections or symposiums within them). Honoré, who is senior curator at London’s Hayward Gallery and is also curating the 13th Baltic Triennial, is known for his experimental exhibition formats.

As Art Cologne and Art Brussels clash this year over the same days (April 19–22), it’s Iikely not a coincidence that Indepedent decided to get some breathing room. April is an incredibly busy time for European fairs generally: There is miart the weekend before, and Berlin Gallery Weekend and artemonte carlo the weekend after that.

Vincent Honoré. Photo by Joel Riff.

In a statement, Dee explains that the date change is “a refreshing break from tradition,” but it is also logistical. Honoré was appointed in December 2017 and their usual April slot would give the curator very little time to rework the fair’s format.

Independent’s fair organizers are hoping that November will mean less competition for galleries’ attendance and for collectors. The region is known for its wealth of art buyers. Paris Photo takes place that weekend, but Independent is in an altogether different category. The new Art Düsseldorf and Art Basel Miami Beach are following closely behind the fair’s new time slot, but Independent is ready to try it out regardless.

The fair will continue to work with a roster galleries and institutions, but this year they will introduce a dynamic program of talks, performances, and activations. The entire ground floor of the Vanderborght Building, which used to be for galleries, will now be dedicated to Honoré’s live program, with booths on the upper levels as usual. If the format looks more like a biennial than a fair, organizers still hope to deliver strong sales.

“We want to present a unique opportunity for talented galleries and institutions around the world to interact and collaborate,” Dee says. “We hope this sparks a new way of thinking about what an art fair can deliver.”

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