This year’s edition of the art book fair takes the form of an ongoing series of talks, book presentations, events with an extended online presence and a digital marketplace. BABF 8 takes place from November 2020 through to May 2021.
A scholarship with a theme, I don't know much about it. But Poppositions (consistently written by the organization as POPPOSITIONS) is also no ordinary scholarship. Poppositions wants to show that things can be done differently, the art fair, even different because of the situation among galleries. Last month, three galleries were closed in The Hague, the same in Rotterdam. And it doesn't get much better internationally. The market for galleries is killing , especially for the smaller ones where the art fair often acts as an executioner after another fair has passed without recouping the investment.
Poppositions wants to show that a grant is possible without an excessive participation fee. A small fair, with small prizes, a different atmosphere, content and audience. Smaller galleries are taking part and many non-profits that sometimes turn out to be completely non-profit but are also willing to sell if a buyer presents themselves for a work. In short, it is a hybrid fair with an appropriate theme this year: Capital of Woke . Now I have to admit that I just missed 'woke' as a catch phrase (I read in the handout : 'the idea of being woke and wokeness concerns raising social awareness, taking actions in response to dominant paradigms, ...') , but fortunately I know about Capital as an art visitor.
Capital of Woke is more than a clever word game at this fair; it is a belief and a mission statement . In the title, Poppositions critically reflects on itself, its own stock market status and the reason why the galleries and non-profits are there: trade or better exchange of every kind and the more the better, with or without capital, but always with the audience and so every artist hopes (even if he is not socially committed) with a touch of woke .
When I speak briefly to the management of the exhibition, Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk (artistic director) and Rachelle Dufour (director) say that each participant has his own agenda. And they sometimes want to differ on Poppositions. Because of this year's theme, the distinction only seems to be magnified: the galleries are very gallery-like, the non-profits are very non-profit, with a layer of hybrid institutions in between that are selling something but clearly not according to the mores of an art fair, namely according to the 'pay what you wish' principle. This year you can go home with t-shirts (Grace Ndiritu at Manouvre Kunstenplek, Ghent), poetry collections and horoscopes (Alice Sparkle at Broodthaers Society of America New York), art books (San Serriffe, Amsterdam) economic art books (Onomatopee,global south (Caetano at Showroom Mama).
I am barely inside or get caught up in a conversation with The Self Luminous Society, an occasional collaboration of three artists who are fairly well-known in the Netherlands, or rather their alteregos that bear the beautiful names of Slim Thinking (the creator of lateral thinging , for example). is also), Benny Snouta and Hayne E. Day who go here full for their econosmics,a transaction of words, ideas and actions with the public in the hope of higher insights. With this 'neo Cosmic Cowboys' (with cowboy hat and cowboy brooch in the border) you can choose a ticket from a wooden case on which an idea for an artwork is written. I stand by when one of the visitors selects the assignment to shoot a horror film, after first having hesitated between that and an invitation to set up a prize for the best article in a flight magazine (best article in an airplane magazine).
He asks if they have a business card, whereupon they ask if he also has a card, after which a new game begins: he can put the card in a bag, take out a marble, then stand backwards with the person, take a few steps turn around, after which he can throw the marble into the hat remotely. Unfortunately, it failed, otherwise he could blindly have scrambled any other ticket out of the pocket, as a speculative hypernet event (whoever you meet doesn't matter if you just come home with tickets). Exactly what it is all about at a trade show. The Luminous Society was disappointed that I had no tickets with me, and so did I.
There is no second exhibitor in the exhibition who plays with the Capital of Woke so cleverly, on so many levels , although Billytown is coming in quite a bit. They have organized a display with black chairs that are stacked and on which four artists have hung their work. The construction, they themselves speak of obstruction, comes from the box of Studio Schottenheimer. Again a camio, in this case from a collective within this Hague collective, that regularly challenges the artists to let the collective that is Billytown (there are seventeen artists plus guests) stay initiative, and therefore able to take new actions and to keep their space exciting and stimulating, for each other and for others. Wokeso, without explicit reference to it. For several years they have been operating as a gallery, out of conviction, trying to do business differently, without major subsidy dependency - so also a little capital .
Arts of the Working Class
The Arts of the Working Class from Berlin is also special, according to street newspaper formula, for which everyone can sign up as a distributor, with a low purchase price and free selling price. When I browse through the copy I get, it is a fairly normal art magazine, with the usual current reflections on current topics, due to a strikingly high number of well-known names among the authors. Not the kind of texts that you normally get in street newspapers.
The contributions to Poppositions, although the whole looks like a fair, work together as a perfectly curated collection of exchange models, including some particularly inventive ones. In addition to the aforementioned, my favorites include: Grace Ndiritu's textile workshop, which sells text-printed t-shirts where Ndiritu always has the greatest pleasure as a seller (selling a thick black bar on the t-shirt with the text 'black cock' ); the revolution boutique with sarcastic commentary on the commercialization of the self-proclaimed revolutionary by Nefeli Papadimouli (and a Greek may say so) at Diamètre Paris; the very comical persiflage of a vain Michael Taussig, played by Tamy Ben-Tor at 1646,
And then I haven't even mentioned the good bookshops, the colic wooden masks by Mauricio Limon, made by artisans in a somewhat difficult complex economic relationship with the artist, and the cocktail bar (also art), at 1 pm an overwhelming Alejandro Céron for whom the party cannot go wrong an hour after the opening of the exhibition. So very woke too, that Céron. But I'm going to sleep now.
Domeniek Ruyters is editor-in-chief of Metropolis M