Third edition of art-fair alternative Condo gives 27 international galleries a prime London platform

The collaborative initiative involving established and emerging dealers is mooted as an alternative commercial model

Maya Hewitt,  Mother Tongue (2017) Courtesy of Misako & Rosen

Maya Hewitt, Mother Tongue (2017) Courtesy of Misako & Rosen

The third edition of Condo London opens later this month (13 January-10 February) with 17 galleries in the capital hosting 27 of their international contemporaries. Galleries from as far away as Shanghai and São Paulo will bring works by their artists and put on exhibitions in London spaces—all for a fraction of the price of showing at an international fair. Vanessa Carlos of the London-based space Carlos/Ishikawa helped developed the gallery-share model which encompasses both established and emerging dealers.

The London-wide number of participants has grown; last year’s edition included 15 galleries. This year’s participants include Hollybush Gardens, linked with Jan Mot of Brussels; Carlos/Ishikawa which hosts both Queer Thoughts of New York and Schiefe Zaehne of Berlin; and Rodeo which is working with New York’s Andrew Kreps gallery.

Koppe Astner gallery of Glasgow is showing works by the San Francisco-based multimedia artist Josh Faught and Estonian artist Kris Lemsalu at Sadie Coles HQ in Kingly Street. Emma Astner, the gallery co-founder, is a Condo veteran, having participated in the first two iterations of Condo London and in the sister edition, Condo New York. Asked if the initiative is a viable alternative commercial model, she says: “Absolutely. Condo is not for profit so the costs associated with it are reasonable [including installation fees] and a realistic level of risk and investment for a young gallery.”

Misako & Rosen gallery is participating for the second time. “Anything that we can do in concert with like-minded colleagues to work towards this goal…we are up for! As part of a group of long-term efforts it will hopefully have some impact,” says Jeffrey Ian Rosen of the Tokyo-based gallery. They will show works by the UK painter Maya Hewitt at Union Pacific gallery, an East End space which will also host two other galleries, Chertlüdde (Berlin) and Gregor Staiger (Zurich). According to the Financial Times, Condo’s founders plan to expand the event beyond London and New York to other cities with Shanghai and Mexico City editions in the pipeline.

POSTSCRIPT (3 January): Vanessa Carlos tells us: "For sure Condo does alleviate fair pressure—and younger galleries do suffer more with that financial pressure than others—so in that way most of the galleries who take part are younger.  But the project is much more about a reaction to an art-world structure that mimics what is happening in the world at large right now: a neoliberal pyramid where everything seems to point towards corporations.  It’s about proposing alternative models to that structure, about encouraging a gallery-going culture again, encouraging a slower way of looking and of having conversations (over the often accelerated way of looking and showing that we have with the proliferation of fairs, and where many people just visit fairs instead of galleries now).  It’s very deliberately an exhibition—it’s four weeks long—not a fair.  It also is about encouraging collaboration and collectivism between galleries and artists."