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Independent Art Fair, an alternative model

Art Market | Created in 2010, the Independent Art Fair has spread its alternative take on the standard global art fair from New York to Brussels. Conceived as a hybrid, the fair is as much a space for negotiating as exhibiting. Shirking established codes, the fair intends to shake up the influence of fairs on the art market.

View of Independent NYC 2015 © Independent New York
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View of Independent NYC 2015
© Independent New York

A microcosm on the move

Founded by Elizabeth Dee, director of the eponymous gallery, and Daren Flook of Hotel, the New York fair boasts three incarnations. Independent Art Fair, created in 2010, and Independent Projects, started in 2014, are both housed in the 25,000 m2 Spring Studios. Independent Brussels is the first European version and will occupy 50,000 m2 in the Vanderborght Building starting in 2016. Following X-Initiative’s lead, Independent follows a strategy of localization and expansion capitalizing on other events’ drawing power : the springtime New York edition runs simultaneously to the Armory Show, Projects at the same time as the November auctions while the Brussels version is on the heels of Art Brussels.

Alternative Model

Asserting an alternative and collaborative model, the New York fair sets itself apart through both the number of participating galleries and its configuration. Each fair welcomes between 40 and 60 galleries – including major players like David Zwirner, CLEARING, Paula Cooper and Almine Rech, along with the less influential – in a large open space that contrasts with the white boxes that characterize major fairs. In addition to saving money, this layout allows for new ideas, such as several galleries collaborating on the presentation of one artist’s work : in 2011, Harris Lieberman (NYC) and Klosterfelde (Berlin) jointly exhibited works by Lisa Oppenheim, while in 2015 Labor (Mexico) and Supportico Lopez (Berlin) shared a space dedicated to the work of Jean Peter Hammer. This difference is even greater for Projects, where the focus is on “solo booths” or, as in 2015, on exclusively female artists.

Independent seems to have adopted the “less is more” philosophy, going against the numbers-based culture that dominates the marketing of fairs. Like other initiative such as Moving Image, Independent positions itself as experimental. While the hand of commerce may be less visible, the fair can’t completely break with the traditional fair model. Initially free, a fee was introduced in 2014 to cover Projects’ costs.

Vincent Kozsilovics
Publié le 15/04/2016
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View of Independent NYC 2015 © Independent New York Independent NYC new space at Spring Studios in TriBeCa © Evan Joseph/Spring Studios The Vanderborght building, where Independent Brussels will be held. © Photo: Isabelle Arthuis Hans Haacke, Weather, or not, installation view at X Initiative, New York. Courtesy the artist and X Initiative © Tom Powel Imaging Inc., New York

View of Independent NYC 2015
© Independent New York

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