The 2019 edition of LISTE, open June 10–16, includes presentations by 77 diverse galleries from 33 countries. This year also begins a new chapter for the fair. After 23 years, Peter Bläuer departs as its director and Joanna Kamm enters. Whitewaller spoke with the new director about the latest edition and its new layout, initiatives, and participants from around the globe.
WHITEWALLER: For this year’s edition, are there any newcomers or highlights you’re looking forward to?
JOANNA KAMM: We have an incredibly strong list of exhibitors this year and many new galleries. Twenty-one new galleries from 17 countries have been selected by our committee—some of them from countries not yet represented at LISTE, such as Dastan’s Basement from Iran, LC Queisser from Georgia, ROH Projects from Indonesia, and Sariev Contemporary from Bulgaria. Galleries from countries such as the U.S. and Italy which are located beyond the established art centers—such as Adams and Ollman in Portland, Good Weather in North Little Rock, and Veda in Florence—are also at LISTE for the first time. And we have very young galleries, for whom LISTE is their first fair ever, like Sandwich from Bucharest and Sweetwater from Berlin. There is a lot to discover.
WW: As the fair’s new director, what did you want to emphasize?
JK: The most important thing for me is to use all the channels at my disposal to point out the social significance of young contemporary art. In our time, in which more and more emphasis is being placed on security and populist, simplified classifications are gaining the upper hand, I see it as more important than ever to deal with emerging artists who make it possible for us to have new perspectives on our world, because they transcend the limits of our own perception. It is the young galleries who discover these artists with a great willingness to take risks, and give them their first solo exhibition and present their works at fairs. This must be supported.
WW: LISTE is adopting a new layout, focused on nine rooms over the five floors. Can you tell us a bit about this new approach?
JK: LISTE’s unique setting—in a former brewery and home to the Werkraum Warteck pp since the 1990s—is a special place with special tenants, strongly contributing to LISTE’s unmistakable atmosphere. It accommodates the idea of discovery with spaces distributed over five floors, branching corridors, and hidden corners.
We have simplified the exhibition architecture built into the rooms and reopened more windows and doors. We adapted the architecture only in nine rooms, because not all rooms require built-in exhibition architecture, and in some rooms, the previous concept works well. The aim was to create a calm fair architecture in the angled, existing building, which would enable the galleries to present the art in a concentrated manner in the rooms. Often these are intimate spatial situations, and we have also taken this into consideration and grouped galleries for the individual rooms in such a way that their art does not strike each other down but strengthens each other.
WW: A new initiative on the ground floor is Joinery—a place where galleries can show videos and performances at no extra cost. Can you tell us a bit about this?
JK: With the expanded exhibition space, we want to give a presence to art media that are difficult to show at fairs due to the size of the projection or the temporality of the presentation, but play a very important role in art.
This year Spike Art Magazine has organized a “Spike Forum”—a discussion forum on new artistic strategies between participants like artists (like Sandra Mujinga and Ed Fornieles), Elie Ayache (a CEO of a financial software company), and Kei Kreutler of Gnosis (a forecasting and information platform on the Ethereum Blockchain). As a fair that shows the latest developments in contemporary art, it’s important that we offer a place where you can inform yourself and new developments are being explained.
WW: Another new project is Impact—a grant from a private Swiss foundation that provides one gallery with financial support for three years. This year’s recipient is Lodos from Mexico City. Can you tell us a bit about this program?
JK: There are always exciting young galleries that cannot afford to participate at LISTE. Often these are galleries that have never taken part in a fair outside their home country and show artists who are at the very beginning of their careers. This is exactly where Impact comes in: They support galleries that present their program at LISTE for the first time abroad with at least one artist who has not yet exhibited outside their country. We are very happy about this support, because it allows galleries to participate that would otherwise not be seen at the fair and strengthens LISTE as a place of discovery.