Why Condo Is the Initiative That London’s Art Scene Needs

Is it an art fair? Is it a Gallery Weekend? No, it’s Condo.

Map of Condo 2017. Courtesy Condo.
Map of Condo 2017. Courtesy Condo.

Brick and mortar fairs might (still) be flourishing worldwide, but young dealers are thinking outside the box, creating a number of exciting alternative models to get their artists seen on the international stage while avoiding the prohibitive costs associated with renting booths.

One such initiative is Dream, an online-only fair that runs concurrently with the art world’s top fairs—including Basel, Basel Miami, Frieze London, and Frieze New York—showcasing works from participating galleries on its website for the duration of each fair, while facilitating the dialogue between collectors and dealers.

Following a more “tangible” approach, though, is Condo, an IRL initiative led by the young gallerist Vanessa Carlos from Carlos/Ishikawa, whereby London galleries lend their spaces for a month to foreign dealers to stage collaborative exhibitions showcasing artists from both rosters.

“Of course there are many benefits to being able to see a lot of art under one roof at an art fair, or hundreds or artwork images online. But we wanted to create a situation that would encourage a slower way of looking and encourage conversation,” Carlos told artnet News of the project.

Vanessa Carlos, director of the gallery Carlos/Ishikawa, launched Condo in January 2016. Photo Jackson Bateman.

Vanessa Carlos, director of the gallery Carlos/Ishikawa, launched Condo in January 2016. Photo Jackson Bateman.

After a successful first edition this past January, featuring 24 galleries in 8 spaces, this collaborative endeavor is returning in January 2017. The second edition of Condo will be bigger and bolder, bringing a total of 36 international galleries to 15 London spaces. The list of participating galleries, moreover, is nothing short of impressive.

In this second edition, the host galleries are staples in the London scene that run the gamut from established ones like Sadie Coles, Maureen Paley, The Approach, Herald St, Greengrassi, and Rodeo, to young emerging galleries like Arcadia Missa, the Sunday Painter, Southard Reid, Union Pacific, and, of course, Carlos Ishikawa.

“In cities like New York there is a much bigger culture of people regularly visiting gallery shows, in London less so. We wanted to create something like a festival of exhibitions in London, to encourage people to get out and see the dozens of amazing free exhibitions in all these beautiful and very individual gallery spaces,” Carlos explained.

Arcasia Missa will show works by Emma Talbot, including You Come To Me In A Dream (2016). Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa.

Arcadia Missa will show works by Emma Talbot, including You Come To Me In A Dream (2016). Courtesy the artist and Arcadia Missa.

“Condo’s spirit of collaboration between galleries both locally and internationally creates a forum for artists in our London spaces away from the fairground. This new model, initiated by Vanessa Carlos, is a breath of fresh air and it is thanks to her I am looking forward to January and hosting dépendance from Brussels!,” chimed in the dealer Maureen Paley in an email to artnet News.

The idea of collaboration and generosity is key here, as Carlos explained to artnet News: “The project doesn’t make any money, visiting galleries share the costs to cover only the opening party, the web design, and maps. Hosting galleries give in kind by sharing their spaces, invigilating the shows, etc. By us acting collaboratively within the project, we are indirectly also sharing our audiences and networks with each other.”

For London-based collectors and art lovers, the benefits are also plenty. Without leaving the city, Condo gives them direct access to works by artists in the exciting roster of galleries such as Simone Subal from New York, Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala, or São Paulo’s Jaqueline Martins, among many others.

Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala will show works by Elisabeth Wild at London’s Greengrassi. Elisabeth Wild, Untitled (2016). Courtesy Proyectos Ultravioleta.

Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala will show works by Elisabeth Wild at London’s Greengrassi. Elisabeth Wild, Untitled (2016). Courtesy Proyectos Ultravioleta.

“Gallery swaps aren’t new, and Gallery Weekends aren’t new either, so Condo was a way of bringing elements of these different ideas together and elaborating on them. I think it’s a great reflection on the community of commercial galleries in London that something like this can happen here,” Carlos added.

The list of participating galleries is:

The Approach hosting Simone Subal, New York

Arcadia Missa hosting VI, VII, Oslo

Carlos/Ishikawa hosting Tommy Simoens, Antwerp & ShangART, Shanghai

Chewday’s hosting Max Mayer Düsseldorf

Emalin hosting Gregor Staiger, Zurich

Greengrassi hosting Proyectos Ultravioleta, Guatemala City

Herald St, hosting Tanya Leighton, Berlin & The Modern Institute, Glasgow

Maureen Paley hosting dépendance, Brussels

Project Native Informant hosting Mother’s Tankstation, Dublin & Queer Thoughts, New York

Rodeo hosting Supportico Lopez, Berlin

Sadie Coles HQ hosting Bridget Donahue, New York

Southard Reid hosting Koppe Astner, Glasgow

The Sunday Painter hosting Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo & Seventeen, New York & Stereo Warsaw

Vilma Gold hosting Neue Alte Brücke, Frankfurt am Main

Union Pacific hosting Misako & Rosen, Tokyo & Jan Kaps, Cologne

Condo takes place in London from January 14 to February 11, 2017.


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