Articles and Features

Pablo’s Birthday x OFFICE IMPART

Here+Now

"We have become accustomed to using our iPhones to share cars, news, and stay connected with friends and family all over the world. As gallerists, it seems only natural to approach our work the same way: through collaboration and sharing networks. But how exactly does this apply to the art scene and market?"

In 2018 Anne Schwanz & Johanna Neuschäffer founded OFFICE IMPART, what might be called a contemporary art agency or consultancy designed to tackle issues arising in the art world that they felt could no longer be solved by the traditional gallery model. Both had spent many years working within the gallery system and had decided that if they were to break away from this mode of working then it must surely be to rethink the role of the gallerist – particularly in the context of digitalisation of the art industry, but also of culture and the world generally.  As they point out “We have become accustomed to using our iPhones to share cars, news, and stay connected with friends and family all over the world. As gallerists, it seems only natural to approach our work the same way: through collaboration and sharing networks. But how exactly does this apply to the art scene and market? We see a change in society that more directly utilizes the tools technology has ushered into our lives. From this perspective, we curate and organize exhibitions, promote and advertise artists, sell art, advise collectors and companies in building up collections, and more. As society continues to evolve and adapt, so too should the industry of contemporary art.”

Pablo's Birthday x OFFICE IMPART
OFFICE IMPART founders Anne Schwanz & Johanna Neuschäffer. Image courtesy Charlotte Spiegelfeld.

The two were winding down after an intense fair at Art Düsseldorf in 2018 when they began a conversation with industry colleagues from Pablo’s Birthday Gallery from New York City. They had enjoyed a long standing personal and professional relationship, and on this occasion were discussing their various shared concerns about directions the art market was taking. It was clear that it was a big and somewhat overwhelming topic, and one that posed numerous challenges. What was also clear is that it was a shared concern, irrespective of the various positions each had within the art world. The realisation was that the question affected both: a young alternative gallery model working outside of a fixed physical space and a traditional gallery that had been in business for over ten years. The conversation turned to the potential of new innovative models that could focus on how to mediate art today, the changing of society due to new technologies, and a broader visual art market. Individually and collectively they had identified an inescapable reality; that a new generation is emerging, one that wants to reach a broader audience by experimenting with new ways to present and experience art, most often in formats created by and presented in modes outside the expected industry norms.

It was from this conversation that the current project HERE+NOW was born. They decided to initiate an exhibition project which deals with how art is, and could be, consumed in the digital age. They invited an array of participants – industry colleagues, artists and digital innovators –  some of whom were already dealing only in new digital models, instagram-only, commercial websites and some other hybrid formats – and determined to curate a physical exhibition of one week’s duration in Pablo’s Birthday Gallery’s Lower East Side premises, but also an extensive program of side events to discuss the topic of how the art industry will continue to live, change and grow in the digital age.

Pablo's Birthday x OFFICE IMPART
Arne Zimmermann, owner of Pablo's Birthday.

For Arne Zimmermann, founder and owner of Pablo’s Birthday, the essential question is whether new digital formats and possibilities are agents of change in the industry, or whether the industry remains ostensibly the same, enacting its traditional mores and patterns within new digital venues, “I am a full on analogue guy – and I am part of a show which deals with the influence of digital change and social media in the art world – wow. To research and learn about all these very involved platforms (and there are new ones every day) and see how they act and react to the speed of change in the art world is impressive to me. Also it is especially interesting how the artists are reacting to this change, some are embracing it some are rejecting it. In the end, even in this digital change, I see the old patterns appearing: there are truly artistic approaches and truly commercial approaches. It is interesting that this goes all the way back to my analog past and my longtime experience in the art world in general. The main question for me is: does the art world really change only because we have new ways of interacting and consuming?”

Pablo’s Birthday Gallery director Clara Andrade Pereira is more certain that perceptible changes in industry practices are occurring, “I believe that the shifting is here and now, the industry is demanding new; art professionals, art lovers, visitors, and artists are requesting and using new models to engage, to reach and to promote online. The online world is reshaping us whether we want it or not. In this complexity and uncertainty, innovation and values at the core of our society are pushing us to rethink the current landscape of the art industry. Are we all going to experience art online? Is the physical space any longer needed or financially sustainable? Will VR technology become the new way to observe? It is on these fundamental questions that we built the project with the ultimate intent to provoke a new mindset, stimulate change, and spark collaboration. Passion and quality move the art world, which definitely should not only be understood in terms of investment alternatives”.

Pablo's Birthday x OFFICE IMPART
Liz Naiden, Upstairs, 2019, Site-specific installation, Digital video, ink on paper, Ed. of 3.

The exhibition HERE + NOW showcases a lively and wide range of contemporary art production. Next to abstract painting, photography and classical sculptures the exhibition includes works which are based on new technology like computer animation or artificial intelligence. All artists have a strong position in the present and the works give differentiated comment on our society and daily life today. All artists come from different artistic perspectives and continents. Participating artist Liz Naiden states: “Although my current work sites video and text in physical space, it is engaged with the new kinds of distance and intimacy made possible by technology, specifically internet connectivity and artificial intelligence. Since Here+Now is a collaboration that brings together new ways of connecting artists with viewers and people with culture, it is interested in some of the same things. I’m happy to participate in a project that brings together so many people using technology to make culture in new ways.

Next to Pablo´s Birthday and OFFICE IMPART the participants of the project HERE+NOW are Daily Collector, Isthisit?, This Ain’t Art School, ARTPIQ, hiato projects, AXS Art, Freud Monk Gallery. These 9 participants from the US and Europe proposed one to two artists each, resulting in a group show of 17 international artists, with work included by Stine Deja (London, UK)  Joshua Citarella (New York, US) Jenny Brosinski (Berlin, Germany), Jonathan Todryk (Dallas, US), Ant Hamlyn (Northampton, UK), Paul Weiner (Denver, US),  Irati Inoriza (Balmaseda, Spain), Anna Ehrenstein (Tirana, Berlin) Tara Wray (Kansas, US), Tahnee Lonsdale (West Sussex, UK), Lisette van Hoogenhuyze (The Hague, Netherlands), Johan Deckmann (Copenhagen, Denmark), Hiroyuki Hamada (New York, US), Hannah Sophie Dunkelberg (Berlin, Germany) Tristan Schulze (Leipzig, Germany), Carla Gannis (Oxford, US) and Liz Naiden (New York, US).

Pablo's Birthday x OFFICE IMPART
Tristan Schulte, Bite, 2019, Raspberry Pi (moving images), Monitor 16:9.

Gallery
Pablo’s Birthday gallery

Opening year
2002

Opening Times
Wed – Fri
11am – 6pm

Sat & Sun
12am – 6pm

+1-332-201-4112

Address
57 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002

[email protected]