This year, Scandinavia’s largest art fair SUPERMARKET takes place for the ninth time. For four days the 3rd and 5th floor of Stockholm’s Kulturhuset, a 5 storey cultural venue smack in the middle of the city centre, will be packed with art works, exhibitors and visitors in down town Stockholm.
Independent art fair SUPERMARKET, initiated by artists, once started as a satellite fair, in reaction to the more established and commercially orientated art fair Market, but has grown larger nowadays then it’s predecessor. With 80exhibitors from 36 countries worldwide the fair mainly functions as a platform.
SUPERMARKET stayed true to the essence of the artist run initiative, professionally well organised and approachable all at the same time. The exhibitors usually run non-profit exhibition spaces. As artist run initiatives come in many different shapes, tastes, forms, organisational structures and ambitions, SUPERMARKET is a vibrant place to come together and connect with each other and a good crowd of interested, engaged people.
“It surprises us every year to see that so many galleries want to come. It has been more difficult for galleries to get here, due to lack of funding or difficulties with visas,” says Meggi Sandell, one of the Project Managers at SUPERMARKET.
Being an internationally focused fair, SUPERMARKET is a great place for artists to meet a new audience but also to meet their international counterparts. The fair’s energetic crew makes the exhibitors feel right at home. The fair draws a large and diverse crowd, ranging from regulars to highbrow professionals, attracting some 7000 visitors in three days last year.
SUPERMARKET ‘s mission seems to draw a circle around this diverse group of independents in the art world without top down curating.
Within the international crowd, five initiatives from the Netherlands will present themselves. 1646 and Nest from The Hague both showing solo presentations; Nest presents Feiko Beckers and 1646’s Bonno van Doorn’s has a bright presentation that really stands out in the black floored theatre hall. Tupujami from Rotterdam collaborates with the Finnish HeavyMerryFinland and invites visitors to vote and contribute a small amount of cash for their favourite artist to win TFHMF award, a new crowd-funded award they created especially for their presentation at SUPERMARKET. Plan B from Amsterdam gets back to basics showing a balanced studio presentation, Karl Georg Staffan Björks’ scale model refers to the life size Swedish hill that he built in the studio earlier this year.
With such variety of exhibitors it’s no surprise this years ‘theme’ is Difference(s), and focuses on diversity: geographic, economic, artistic and interpretive differences and similarities.
The theme covers the SUPERMARKET Art Magazine and the seminar programme SUPERMARKET TALKS. During TALKS, Swedish KRO (National Artists’ Organisation) will moderate a discussion about the upcoming general election in Sweden with party leaders and politicians.
One of the most remarkable exhibitors presenting their initiative is the AllArtNow gallery from Damascus, which during the last two years has acted as a home for two families fleeing the war in Syria. Also Bhotsun Art from Lhasa, really functions as the definition of an underground gallery. Fearful of the Chinese government, they only invite friends and colleagues to their exhibitions.
In addition to the exhibition, the event includes a seminar programme, a performance art stage and a meeting programme for networking.
In some cases the organisations’ structure becomes visible in the way the presentations are laid out. Some independent exhibitors seem to have less experience presenting themselves to the large audience. Others tend to show lots of information, creating a chaotic view in their aim to stand out and of course there’s the performers literally shouting their heads off, but mostly the presentations are well balanced.
SUPERMARKET ‘s mission seems to draw a circle around this diverse group of independents in the art world without top down curating. They provide a showcase for artists’ initiatives and know how they function in a venue like this. Within this framework the exhibitors all find their own way of doing so, like they always do it themselves.
14-16 February 2014