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James Payne

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The East End is Alive and Well

Posted: 29/06/2012 15:28

Boetzelaer|Nispen gallery, a fairly recent addition to the East London gallery scene has a great show 'Arkhe Travel' on right now, but be quick as it closes this week.

In the same tucked away courtyard as our gallery, PayneShurvell, it shows that despite a recent Guardian article on the 'death' of the East End (yawn), the gallery scene is thriving here. But you need to put a bit of effort in to see beyond Time Out's listings. Within a stone's throw from us there are so many exciting galleries that haven't moved to Fitzrovia, including Red, Rivington Place, La Scatola, amongst others .

Dutch couple Marnix van Boetzelaer and Linda van Nispen opened their gallery in October 2011 and immediately struck me as one to watch. Their shows have been consistently ambitious, curatorially succinct, fresh and daring. I spoke to Marnix recently about their gallery.

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Marnix van Boetzelaer and Linda van Nispen

First off, can you sum up your current show in 140 characters or less?
It's called Arkhe Travel and it's all about systems and archives. Works in the show refer to their underlying systems or create new ones.

You are both young (they are in their mid-20s) and this is your first gallery. Why did you open Boetzelaer|Nispen?
For us it was a simple choice. Either start our careers in the art world starting at the bottom in a high end company or start at the very bottom with our own company and work our way up from there. The learning experience has already proved it was a good (although rather reckless) decision. Also it provides us with a great opportunity to help develop the careers of talented young artists.

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Arkhe Travel

What are your roles within the gallery?
Linda is the businesswoman and I am more involved in the art. Although we try to keep things quite mixed so we both know our own business as much as possible.

What galleries are you influenced by?
I think a good motto when running a gallery is 'Why Not?' I think the best gallery in the world at this moment is Hauser & Wirth. They give their artist so much space for ambitious projects, there is a lot of 'Why Not' going on over there!

Why did you choose Shoreditch?
The West End is too expensive, which would have meant we would have had to compromise on the quality of our programme. The South East (Peckham) felt a bit too far away. We talked about this with a lot of people and the general consensus was that the East End was still the place to be.

How do you see the Art Market at your entry level?
Challenging. Although London's art market turns over billions each year, surprisingly little of that money is being spent on emerging artists. It's like everyone is buying 500 pound bottles of Bordeaux although you could also buy them for 20 pounds and let them age for 20 years. It shows that many collectors lack the vision or confidence to really invest in young artists (or the time to do thorough research). Although saying that, there are some great people out there supporting our programme and artists, so business wise thing are going in the right direction!

How do you choose your artists?
That's a hard one! I think it's a combination between gut feeling, taste and planning. Although coincidence is a big factor as well. Some artists have been introduced to me and I liked them as people before I liked their work. Although we do not want to limit ourselves to a narrow programme we somehow tend show artists that involve photography in their work.

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Tina Melzer at Arkhe Travel

How do you see the difference between the Dutch scene and the UK scene?
You could see the Dutch scene as a sort of miniature version of the UK one. There are some internationally operating galleries and quite a few local galleries. There is (or was) good government funding and Amsterdam is a place where people from all over the world have their art education. Institutions as the Rijksakademie and De Ateliers are internationally very competitive. All of these factors are present in London as well, albeit on a larger scale.

Favourite Dutch gallery and favourite UK gallery?
Dutch emerging: Janine Hofland
Dutch established: Grimm Gallery
UK emerging: Limoncello
UK Established: Hauser&Wirth

How do you see yourselves in 5 years time?
A second space in Amsterdam maybe?

In the short time you've been in business what do you feel you've learned?
A lot! Running this gallery is the first full time job for both of us. Mostly we learned how to run a business and to be tough negotiators.

Would you do anything different?
If I would start the gallery with the experience I have today I would do everything different. But looking back, what we did brought us here, so not really. We've often been called refreshing, that probably has a lot to do with a lack of knowledge of the London art world, causing us to make choices others wouldn't have made. We weren't calculative, we just did what felt right, and it worked!

This excellent show is open at Boetzelaer|Nispen until July 7.

 

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