Recently, I interviewed a curator-duo that runs LEHRTER SIEBZEHN, a gallery in a temporary empty building. Stephanie Greimel (1985) and Johanna Teresa Wallenborn (1989) had a real lucky blow meeting with the real estate company that owns the building. The owners were interested in turning one of the floors into an art space. Greimel and Wallenborn pitched a plan and got the floor. They organise the exhibitions, the real estate company pays the basic needs like water and electricity.
The exhibitions Greimel and Wallenborn organise follow a pop-up strategy, which focuses on momentum. In this case opening night, when the big crowd comes. Afterwards you can visit the exhibition for a couple of days and then it’s over. Like the space actually, which will be over in september 2014, when lofts will be realised there.
Not only in times of economical crisis does the pop-up strategy come in handy. It’s a win for both parties. The real estate owners get of course attention for their space. It also provides them with a good selling story. “Did you know that there used to be an art gallery in this nice two-bedroom apartment with a separate kitchen and balcony on the south-side?”, will certainly do the trick.
For starting entrepreneurs it is an ideal way to experiment. Not a lot of start-up money and a limited amount of time are needed. It’s low risk. You can practice, make mistakes, built up a name and network. And by the time you can get the funding for the projects you really want to do, you can develop more long-term goals. ‘Start-up gallery’ is perhaps a better term for this way of exhibiting.
Nowadays there seem to be pop-up everythings. Pop-up restaurants, hotels, festivals, etc. You name it, and it pops up somewhere. There even are several online ‘how-to’ manuals. It feels like a relatively new phenomenon, but is actually long present in society. Think of new years, when suddenly stores pop up where you can buy fire-works.
The pop-up way of doing things comes with a hasty feel. “When is it, did I miss it, am I totally screwed now I’ve missed it?”. We all know the feeling. It does remind one of another art-form widely used since the end of the last century: performance. With the great distinction that performance, if well recorded, can in a way be seen again on a screen.
Of course, because the pop-up exhibition is quick and happening and all that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the art it features has the same qualities. So instead of the big installation sort which we have become so used to in recent years, they can also present slow art. You know, the kind of art that asks: “Look at me. No, stop you moron, look again. LOOK. And please read the info I left for you on the table. No the other table, the one by the window. THANK YOU!”.
In short: nowadays we are confronted with short term, highly peakable exhibitions that can also show slooooow art. Don’t you just love the art world?