Paris Gets its Own Gallery Weekend: CHOICES

École nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, photo: Hermann Wendler

While Berlin is typically the place for a European spring gallery binge, Paris has an emerging art fête of its own. Entitled Choices, the inaugural French gallery weekend will take place on May 24-25, 2014, and gather 35 gallerists from the capital’s main art hubs: the Marais, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the hip neighborhood of Belleville.

Marion Papillon, director of Claudine Papillon Galerie, which is spearheading the initiative, shed some light on the title. “Collectors and museum curators make choices regularly,” she said. “It is a positive concept.” She hopes the name will prove catchy enough to distinguish the Parisian event from its German counterpart.

“[We started Choices because] we wanted people to come to the galleries,” said Fabienne Leclerc, from the participating gallery In Situ/Fabienne Leclerc, which represents artists such as Meschac Gaba and Mark Dion. “We all have great spaces, we put on important shows, and we’ve come to realize that we see the majority of our collectors and our museum contacts at art fairs rather than in our galleries.”

If, as Papillon pointed out, collectors do make it to the galleries during Paris’s biggest art fair, FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair), dealers are too busy at their booths to show them around. “It’s also a way of saying to our collectors that during those three days, we are fully available for them,” said Papillon.

Choices participants include Art:Concept, Chantal Crousel, GB Agency, Yvon Lambert, and Almine Rech, among others. Besides putting on one of their best shows of the year, each gallery will invite an international collector for the weekend (an invitation which comes with accommodation at the prestigious Le Meurice hotel). Gallerists will also select one of their artists for possible inclusion in an exhibition at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, curated by the director Nicolas Bourriaud alongside younger curators.

While an official list of artists has yet to be announced, Jeremy Deller (Art:Concept), Damien Deroubaix (In Situ/Fabienne Leclerc) and Navid Nuur (Max Hetzler) were reportedly among the first artists selected for the show. “I find this initiative very positive–as it includes galleries that are not showing at FIAC, it also puts the spotlight on lesser known galleries, evening the playing field,” according to independent curator Joana Neves, a former director at Schleicher + Lange and Chantal Crousel,

Choices is intended to work as a counterpoint to FIAC, which, some say, is now favored by many international collectors over Frieze London. “This year [at FIAC], we’ve seen many people coming from the US, from the Middle East, from Asia–which is very new,” said Leclerc.

“Paris has gained more visibility in the last few years,” concluded Papillon. “The city is really dynamic, and that’s why we wanted to create another highlight in the Parisian art calendar.”

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