Artspace to represent Galway at major international art fair

Artspace, the Galway artist collective, will be representing Ireland at the Supermarket Art Fair which will take place in Stockholm in February.

The Supermarket Art Fair is an ‘alternative’ styled international art fair, exhibitions, and gathering which is run by artists. It has been held in the Swedish capital since 2006 and was originally founded by Swedish artists as a reaction to the large commercially driven art fairs. Since then it has grown into a major event in its own right. The 2011 event will see artists groups from 25 countries taking part.

The Galway artists taking part are Paul Maye, Anne O’Byrne, Ben Geoghegan, Lisa Sweeney, Dave Finn, Laura Brennan, Catherine O’Leannachain, Simon Flemming, Juliette De La Mere, Lisa O’Donnell, Kathleen Fury, Louise Manafold, Aideen Barry, and Triona MacGiolla Rí.

Artspace applied to take part in the event last September and was accepted. At the fair the artists will be exhibiting sculptures, paintings, drawings, photography, and video.

“It means a lot to us to be there and to be representing Galway and Ireland,” says Anne O’Byrne, “and it’s a great opportunity and Artspace has never done anything like this before.”

The Supermarket allows for artists from different nations to meet, exchange ideas, and network. Art enthusiasts and collectors can also sample the different works on show. “There will be a lot of impromptu events and it’s very informal,” says Paul Maye. “There will be experimental pieces, artists trying different things, and a lot of engaging with audiences.”

However a major difference between the Supermarket and the commercial art fairs revolves around acquiring artworks. At the Supermarket, money can be offered for works, but bartering and swopping items is welcomed. Also, if a person likes an artwork enough, s/he can be given it free of charge.

The idea is to bypass the capitalist system of monetary exchange and encourage people to think differently about ideas of worth and value, as well as encouraging human interaction.

“A lot of people will say, you’re making little or no money from art, why give away a work and make more ‘no money’’” says Paul, “but that is to misunderstand the idea of what’s going on. We are looking for an engagement with the other person who wants the work.

“Often you don’t meet whoever might buy your work and this is a chance to do so. It’s a chance to hear what kind of emotional and intellectual reaction they have had to your work and they telling you what it means to them. For an artist that can often mean more than the money.

“It’s also a challenge to artists as there will be pieces you may be reluctant to part with, but if someone tells you what it means to them, can offer you something interesting in return, or might pay for it, then it forces you to think about the value of the work.”

For the Artspace members the supermarket is a chance to promote both the work of the group and its individual members. It is also a chance to network with other artists, the public, and other individuals in the art world.

“It will be interesting to see what other art groups are doing and interesting for us to show them what we are doing,” says Lisa Sweeney. “It will be great to share these things.”

Artspace is also looking for sponsors. So far funds have been received from Aró Internet Business Development, Na Furbacha. Those interested in helping Artspace should email [email protected]

The Supermarket Art Fair takes place from February 18 to 20 in the Kulturhuset, Stockholm. For more information see www.supermarketartfair.com

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