Galleries are doing it for themselves this year. Eight of London’s best-known emerging galleries are hosting exhibitions by 16 international counterparts for the inaugural edition of Condo (16 January-13 February). The event is an alternative way for galleries to exhibit abroad, says the director of London’s Carlos/Ishikawa gallery, Vanessa Carlos, who is behind the project.
The idea arose after a conversation at last year’s Liste art fair in Basel about hosting a small fair in a gallery. “I loved the idea and the spirit of collaboration but I thought we really don’t need another art fair in London,” Carlos says.
While Condo is not intended to be a replacement for art fairs—“I think young galleries should do a few key art fairs a year”—Carlos says that there is a need to address the model that emerging galleries have to follow. “When you might be paying £10,000 for an art fair booth but your works all cost £2000, and Gagosian is paying around £100,000 for a bigger booth but sells works for millions, there is somewhat of a disconnect.”
Condo is almost completely self-funded. The visiting galleries pay £600 each to cover costs (such as the website, flyers and technicians) and “100% make their own sales and keep all their money,” Carlos says. The host galleries “give only in kind”, she says. Tom Cole, the co-director of The Sunday Painter in Peckham, south London—which will host galleries from São Paulo, Glasgow and east London—says that the gallery is participating in Condo because “it’s born out of a collaborative and collegiate spirit, it's a unique proposition.”
There are already talks of exporting the model to other cities such as São Paulo and Athens, but Carlos is keen to point out that each city should “adapt and make it fit their own context.”