MOMENTUM: A gallery of galleries. An interview with Cassandra Bird and Rachel Rits-Volloch

MOMENTUM, exhibition view

Part two of a two-part interview. Parts 12

You mentioned the salons earlier in our talk, can you explain how these work and what purpose they serve?

CB: It’s a guest list of twenty people and we specifically choose and select each person. Top curators, collectors, artists, gallerists and press. And then it’s filmed. You can see two of them, on our website in the salon section. We started having them because we want to reflect on what we are doing, so we have the art salon at the same time with every exhibition. So we are not just creating exhibitions, we are stopping and sharing and reflecting with art professionals, with curators, collectors, gallerists to look and reassess on what we are doing, why we are doing it, what purpose it has and to educate. It’s not a panel, it’s an open conversation, there are arguments, laughing, fighting, back to neutrality. We kick people out at four a.m.. People feel so excited! They view art all the time but they never reflect on it, they never question it, they don’t talk about it, so everybody seems to be starving and then they are go a bit crazy at this. And it’s comfortable, so people feel comfortable to do that.

RRV: We are always asking the question in all of our salons “what is time based art” and how can we push things forward. And so we are learning as we go along. And we are learning from the best people because we always invite the very leading arts’ professionals and press and artists themselves.

Any ideas of expending it into something larger?

RRV: No, it’s the intimacy ¬¬that is important. We have done big events here, like workshops, but that’s very different. It’s the intimacy that brings back the salon of the 19th century, and this is why this works; it has to be at home.

MOMENTUM, exhibition view

Since both of you come from different places of the world and have lived in others as well, can you tell us what differences you find between the art scene in Berlin and other major artistic hubs?

CB: I can compare it to New York. In New York, I saw a place where sales are happening and then when I came to Berlin I saw this is the place where it has all been made and created to then be shot out to the world. I was working in galleries in NY and I was amazed by the amazing artists and the great shows and now I’m in Berlin and I’m drinking a beer in a bar with that artist that I love and adore. So it’s like this is the ground floor. I see Berlin as the roots level where the creative juices are flowing and the artists are sharing concepts and ideas, curators are being inspired, and it’s like a launching pad, jumping out of Berlin, taking these talents, skills, elsewhere.

RRV: Berlin is what NY used to be in the 70s and 80s, when artists could afford to live there, when they squatted these factory spaces and turned them into lofts. Everyone is afraid now and the big discussion is that is this going to happen here because all the artists are here now, and Berlin is going to become expensive. I don’t see the point in investing energy on this fear.

CB: What I like, and to compare Sydney because I’m from Sydney, is that in Berlin, there are no limits, people don’t worry about playing safe. People want to explore, they want to grow, they want to be different, in Sydney it’s very safe, maybe because more money is at risk with leases and taking over spaces, so then there have to be more safe to make sure what are they are doing is commercial, and they can have sales and money bought back in. But in Berlin that’s not the focus, it’s to create a great content and so you get more interesting projects naturally. That’s the nature of the city.

MOMENTUM, exhibition view

What are your plans for the future?

RRV: We are really worldwide. We are building a residency network and at the moment we have partners in Australia and New York and we are certainly going to expand our residency network and hopefully have one here in Berlin as well.

CB: Another upcoming project is touring the video collection to other major cities in the world. Then we want to start doing international collectors tours to Istanbul. We will take them personally and guide them around, bring them to artists’ studios in Istanbul.

The possibilities are endless. There are no limits to what we do.


Additional Information

“Press Play. New perspectives in contemporary Chinese art” – GROUP SHOW
Exhibition: Apr. 24 – Jun. 12, 2012
Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Mariannenplatz 2 (click here for map)

Sky screen
A presentation of international video art
Rosenthaler Platz, Berlin


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