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The Role of the Gallery Part I

Part I: Private Meets Public: To Whom Are We Indebted?
The Fiction of Financial Independence -- Can We Make It On Our Own?

The sphere of the gallery is one where symbolical and monetary value is attributed and collides. Although the commercial gallery may thrive as a private operation, there is always a public interest at play. We often tend to forget that all commercial galleries can be visited for absolutely free (in stark contrast to many publicly funded institutions). Collaborations with public partners in production, presentation or sales, and mixed-financial structures, play a part in defining the scope and abilities of the gallery's activities, as well as an understanding of whose interests should be best defended. How do galleries navigate these pathways between artists, public and private collections, and the public? Although we like to approach the private and public realm as distinctively separate geographies, its boundaries are fluid and, frequently, intertwined. Examples of co-productions are abundant and few exhibitions come into being without support from commercial galleries. This might be mistakenly taken as a form of unwanted financial dependence. But do the galleries also need the support of the public sphere to create careers for their artists? How does this fragile arts ecology play out?

Speakers: Victor Gisler, gallerist/director, Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich; Stella Lohaus, archivist, curator and one of the founders of HELD, Antwerp; Nathaniel Pitt, artist, gallerist, curator and director of Division of Labour and PITT projects, Worcester; Jonas Žakaitis, curator, editor and writer, Vilnius.

Moderated by Nathalie Hartjes, artistic director at Nieuwe Vide, Haarlem and coordinator of the Gallerist Programme at de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam

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