As Independent New York opens its doors to VIPs today, the London-based exhibitor Richard Saltoun announced that the gallery will donate 5% of its sales during the fair to A.I.R. Gallery, the first all-female artists' co-operative gallery in the US, founded nearly 50 years ago to provide a professional exhibition space for women artists.
Saltoun proposed the partnership as part of his recently announced 100% Women scheme, the gallery’s programming initiative to solely showcase the work of women artists for the next year that launched in March to mark Women’s History month.
“This type of support is fundamental to the existence of A.I.R., a space that has been dedicated to supporting self-identified women artists since 1972,” the executive director of A.I.R., Roxana Fabius, says. “[Our] success and survival are inextricably connected to the network of individuals and organisations that have supported our cause through the years.”
Fabius says the funds received from Saltoun’s sales will be dedicated entirely to the A.I.R. fellowship programme, which was established in 1993 to support underrepresented and emerging self-identified women artists in New York City. Each year, six artists are awarded a year-long fellowship to develop and exhibit their first institutional solo project at A.I.R. In the upcoming weeks we will be announcing the 2019-2020 fellows that were selected by Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, Ruba Katrib and Xiaoyu Weng.
Saltoun has built a female-artist-heavy roster since launching his eponymous gallery in London’s Mayfair neighbourhood seven years ago. At Independent, he is presenting the first US solo exhibition of work by Austrian artist Renate Bertlmann to introduce “this important feminist artist to American audiences for the first time”, he says. Works on view include the artist’s signature sexy-kitsch sculptures that incorporate materials like moulded latex, dildos bedazzled with glitter and rhinestones and pacifiers and found objects as well as some of Bertlmann's early performance photographs. The display dovetails with Bertlmann’s recent election to represent Austria at the 58th Venice Biennale in May.
The initiative is not the only philanthropic endeavour Independent is supporting this year. In honour of its 10th anniversary edition, the fair will donate a portion of the proceeds of ticket sales to White Columns, New York’s oldest alternative non-profit space that highlights emerging and unknown artists.
"Independent was created as a space to facilitate just this kind of international partnership between galleries,” says Elizabeth Dee, the fair’s co-founder and director. “We are delighted to provide a platform for Richard Saltoun to make a generous gift to A.I.R. Gallery, and applaud them for jumpstarting a timely conversation around diverse representation in the art world."