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Varsovians: Michał Woliński

Founder of Not Fair in Palace of Culture and Science and Piktogram gallery which takes part in Warsaw Gallery Weekend.

Not Fair – does it mean they are not fairs?
– It is rather play on words which is meant to show that they are not typical art fairs. I wanted to look for a new formula which is economically and artistically effective, useful, interesting for participants and recipients as well as. At this point it is a side issue for me whether we call it fairs or an exhibition. However, hypocrisy of the institutional art world which pretends it has nothing to do with economy and market makes me laugh. For someone who has been in this business for 20 years this type of behaviour may either mean being out of touch with reality or conscious manipulation.

You take part in big fairs. How does it look like from the inside?
– They have been dominated by so called mega-galleries which act like corporations and butter up 1% of the most richest people in the world. Fairs are held in places where new money is. It is extremely hard for small galleries to break through with a less mainstream offer. This does not concern me however, I am interested in this solely from the cognitive point of view.

When did art fairs as we know them started?
– In 1967 first Art Cologne took place and Art Basel in 1970. This formula started then and continues till now. At some point in the second part of the 90s, young galleries along with Art Basel started Liste – in industrial interiors, with new energy. The formula was dynamic, galleries could take part in Liste only 3 times. Later the rules were changed and there are galleries which have been there for 15 years now.

Whereas, abc (art berlin contemporary) in Berlin was created in opposition to these traditional art fairs like Art Forum. Similar formula like we have. Now, after some years of experiments, tradition took over, they joined with Art Cologne and there are traditional booths.

We don’t have such fairs. Does it mean we don’t have art market in Warsaw?
– Market is very limited. The most affluent collectors make the most painfully predictable choices – they buy at these huge fairs, from Polish art they choose modernism. Institutions and museums are mainly interested in young art, more often we can see young collectors and this event is aimed at them.

Not only young galleries take part in Not Fair but also such aces like the Foksal Gallery Foundation.
–  Its founder – Andrzej Przywara – is tired of huge fairs as well. He visited the first edition which was spontaneous, organized in a forsaken go-go club and he liked this formula. This year, another important gallery contacted us – Galerie Hubert Winter from Vienna. They have their Vienna Contemporary financed by the Russians and they still want to come to Warsaw, to the Palace of Culture and Science. The Museum of Modern Art is being created here, we have lots of very interesting artists, the Pole curated documenta. This place intrigues them.

Touch wood, there is still budget to buy art to the collections of the four big museums. And these purchases are mainly devoted to international art, not only Polish.

How does it work? Do you invite galleries to Not Fair? Do you make selection?
– I invite selected galleries and they propose the next ones. This way network is created. Many galleries contact us. Good representation of a gallery from the region of the East-Central Europe mixed with the very good galleries from the Western Europe is what i’m interested in. This year we also have a very good and very young gallery from Los Angeles which applied for participation itself. Each gallery is meant to present one artist, preferably with the newest work. There are no booths, one exhibition is created out of many works.

This formula is more unpretentious, there are only few galleries, they make contacts. It is more about art, artists, searching effective solutions, rather than a simple presentation of a product.

Not Fair start on Thursday, 21st September in the Palace of Culture and Science (Defilad Square, main entrance), 5 PM – 10 PM and will last till 24th September. Open: Friday 12 PM – 7 PM, during weekend 11 AM – 7 PM. Admission free.

Piktogram gallery (Kredytowa St 9/26) takes part in Warsaw Gallery Weekend, which starts this Friday. Florian Auera’s exhibition ‘Change of wheel’ will be open till 10th November. Admission free.
More about WARSAW GALLERY WEEKEND here…

Photo: Aga Bilska, WGW’s materials

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