7 nov 2017

From Los Angeles to Dijon, chronicles of an undercover reporter

From Los Angeles to Dijon, chronicles of an undercover reporter in the art world.

It’s no longer news that, when certain galleries start colonizing districts where rents are cheap, property prices start to rise. Sometimes it’s a welcome injection of dynamism, but frequently the locals don’t appreciate being priced out of their neighbourhood. After artist Laura Owens moved her studio to Mission Road in Los Angeles, where she also opened a gallery co-run with Gavin Brown, a whole host of other spaces and trendy restaurants followed in her wake. Now the locals are up in arms, organizing road blocks and demonstrations during gallery openings and demanding that the newcomers leave the area. 


Since mid-September, Berlin’s Volksbühne has also been the site of contestation, set off by the appointment of former Tate Modern director Chris Dercon as its head. Activists have occupied the theatre, among them Sarah Waterfield of the artists’ collective Dust to Glitter, who explains, “We’re undertaking this action because the rise of rents in Berlin is making life more and more difficult for artists.”


Contemporary art is now everywhere, and is being used as publicity to attract new audiences. Even Pompeii is diversifying, its director, Massimo Osanna, having decided to ask ar tists such as Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to come up with proposals for the site. Osanna also recently partnered up with Madre, Naples’s big contemporary-ar t museum, for an archaeology-inspired exhibition in which Mark Dion and Laure Prouvost, among others, took part.


African and Afro-American artists are the new darlings of the art market. At this autumn’s Frieze, ever more galleries were showcasing work that has too long been ignored by the big institutions and the market, and a new London fair called 1:54 Contemporary African Art took place this October, at the same time as Tate Modern was showing Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. Among the pioneering institutions in this respect, Harlem’s Studio Museum, whose director is Thelma Golden, is at the cutting edge. In 2018, for its 50th anniversary, work will begin on a brandnew, $175 million building by David Adjaye, currently the go-to architect for collectors. After Tony Salamé’s Fondation Aïshti in Beirut and the N a t i o n a l M u s e u m o f A f r i c a n American History and Culture in Washington, Adjaye also has plans to build a new foundation in Madrid for the Turinese collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.


Dijon’s Le Consortium is mourning one of its founders, Xavier Douroux. A unanimously appreciated figure, Douroux helped put the Dijon institution on the map as one of the most ardent defenders of contemporary art anywhere in Europe. An auction is being organized to raise money for Le Consortium’s future.