Berlin Special Part 4: Interview Kristian Jarmuschek (Preview)
AfN: Mr. Jarmuschek, how did you come to the arts?
Kristian Jarmuschek: My actual situation as gallery owner was preceded by a study in Berlin in history of art and my interest in visual arts in form of theatre. However the ignition was, like for many other art historians, the early enthusiasm for the great masterpieces of art which I collected as postcards.
AfN: and the professional way was the gallery?
K. Jarmuschek: The professional way from March 2000 on was indeed the gallery.
AfN: Primarily you are gallery owner. What does your role at the Preview take, and is it possible to live in this dual capacity?
K. Jarmuschek: You can live with it, if not I wouldn't be sitting in front of you. But I have to admit that my great advantage is that I got the gallery together with my gallery partner Stefan Trinks. That means he compensates my missing so that the gallery still run successfully in times in which I am more required by or with the organisation of the Preview. So I am able to live with this double role. To be honest the engagement and activities at the preview does have a positive influence on the perception of the gallery in many ways. Not only because of the extremely positive accepted presentation of the fair but also the local and international notice of the gallery. We are one out of four galleries who organizes the Preview.
AfN: There are four.
K. Jarmuschek: There are four galleries… let's say artists. The individual biographies are to be understood separately for our wide network where the Preview developed out of.
AfN: The preface of the Preview's actual catalogue mentions one of the masters in the German art business…
K. Jarmuschek: Yes, Rudolf Zwirner.
AfN: One of the founders of the art Cologne, front-man… In his introduction Rudolf Zwirner aims at the inherent character of injustice in choice of art where someone always is ignored. He shows the connection from the 'Salon des Refusees' to the Cologne 'Unfair'. In what context does the Preview itself stand?
K. Jarmuschek: First of all I have to concretise that. We are very proud that Rudolf Zwirner wrote the preface for us. His perception of the Preview and the entire discussion in the preamble shows the injustice of the system 'art fair' and the necessity of additional fairs. Every fair will get its additional fair one day. In his opinion it is like impregnate and forwarding but on the other hand like a premise of the system. A man who himself had something to do with competitive events while his activity as creator of the art cologne. His attitude nowadays: it would be a necessary situation that there is the feeling of injustice in the choice of galleries and that this choice has to be extended - and there won't be a choice left if it is too largely expanded. That means there have to be frontiers where new groups can appear outside of and new networks could be developed. That really happens at the Preview. An appropriate network has emerged. So every additional fair isn't a competition but an extension of supply.
AfN: That's the interpretation?
K. Jarmuschek: That's it. And of course as a discussions offer to the local Art Forum, as we would have liked to present ourselves collaboratively at the Kunstherbst. Also for the Berlin visitors different fairs are important. We should emerge with more force different profiles, different offers, but collaboratively. That is our request.
AfN: Is the Preview a growing event? How many galleries took part last year? How many are there this year?
K. Jarmuschek: Last year there were 45 this year 52 and we get fully straight that the Preview will grow nonessential next year. That depends on the accommodation we have but first of all to present a small selection. We don't want to be a competitor to the Art Forum and get to solve the same choosing problems like the Art Forum. We want to be a small fair with a special section and a special focus of emerging galleries and emerging artists.
AfN: To get back to the Zwirner preface again, is the Preview already in a similar dilemma like the Art Forum or the Art Cologne? Who do you reject?
K. Jarmuschek: I can say something about who we reject: We are searching for emerging artists, emerging galleries and upcoming positions on the art exchange. It has to be named with these English words because there aren't enough adequate German terms. We see ourselves differently as we offer cheap platforms to the galleries. To be precise: We are only financing the fair costs with the booth rents. That means we aren't a fair association to make profit. We cover the costs on exact booth size. We try to keep the costs as low as possible so that there isn't a financial or commercial barrier for the galleries. It's important to have the freedom to choose the positions which we are interesting for us - emerging. So we achieve that every project, initiative, artist and gallery owner with new forms of production got the courage to apply to us. Everyone is able to apply - we could select out of 250 applications. We had two months of jury meetings to look at and discuss every position to justify the qualification. 'Preview Berlin - the emerging art fair' means that we thought about this term as well and chose the galleries according to our visions and understanding of quality.
AfN: Last year at the end of the Berlin KunstSalon there was a panel discussion - a discussion there wasn't a panel - about the Berlin fair scenery. We got four art fairs at the same time here in Berlin; you were very laid-back at this discussion beside Sabrina van der Ley. Does this attitude last?
K. Jarmuschek: The Attitude lasted. You cannot express the gallerists feeling in such an interview but it's our special benefit that the colleagues are this relaxed. For the booth rent of € 2,400 you normally get an ad in a well-known art magazine. So it is nearly an advertising cost we charge the galleries. Nevertheless the demanded international collectors visit the Preview. That happened already on the opening day of the Art Forum at the Professional Preview. The number and quality of the interested people of the institutional or the collectors section but also from the private and commercial area is great, so that every gallery owner got a smile on his face and was very satisfied. It is a positive and uncocked attitude of the fair what confers on the visitors. There is an atmosphere for discussions not only between the gallerists, artists and visitors but between colleagues. There is no present gallery who doesn't want to take part next year.
AfN: The Art Basel has a Liste and a Volta - these fairs are named as something like a boiler for a previous participation at the Art Basel. Does this development even exist in Berlin? What is your position to the Art Forum.
K.Jarmuschek: The position concerning the Art Forum is evident. The Preview wouldn't exist without the Art Forum. We know well who the hen was and who the egg. On the other hand we would like to see that the Art Forum regards the Preview like a first occurrence, a test and a discovery platform. That means the participation at the Preview would be steppingstone for the Art Forum instead of negative consequences for an optional attendance at the Art Forum. That is a great discussion between the colleagues and very desirable. There are some colleagues who are presenting here and took part on the Art Forum before.
AfN: Jette Rudolf for example.
K.Jarmuschek: Yes, for example but she stayed at the Art Forum. There are other like Spielhaus Morrison, Kuttner & Siebert or the gallery Baer from Dresden, which took part on the Art Forum and participate this year with us. A closer cooperation with the Preview could solve the dilemma about the enormous number of applying galleries. The future we would like to offer is: think about that. The certain fair isn't important for the general Berlin art scene but the additional sophisticated offers make the people travelling to Berlin.
AfN: That happened even successfully even though many people were afraid.
K.Jarmuschek: Today no one asks if the city can stand four art fairs. As you can see this is working. The atmosphere is a bit like in Basel where the whole city is prepared. The different events are coordinated and the people can meet each other in various spaces. It's like a big family trip. The people are greeting each other and how they acclaim - it is a wonderful feeling. Finally that does not only increase the attractiveness of the city but also the sales on the art market.
AfN: That is our next topic. The exchange for contemporary art is booming for years. At the same time Medias fear the explosion of the bubble like in the eighties. How do you perceive the market for present art? Is it stable or do you think it is still sensitive.
K. Jarmuschek: I think it is an illegitimate reflection of the situation at the beginning of the millennium on the art exchange. I think that certain superlatives in gaining prices are really surprising indeed. On the other hand the exchange on the art market is oriented on future options, on a dynamics of development but it is a different principle than on the stocking exchange. It is diversifying what somebody is prepared to pay for a certain object, may it be a work of art, a luxury item or an eatable object. The price depends on the concurrence; it is more a playful aspect. The game is bigger than on the stocking and the fun of the members is brighter. I can imagine that there are some irritations about the similarity; but this phrasing: "it is a bubble" "the Market crashes"…. - But perhaps the journalists have their joy to exhaust and to repeat …
AfN: Like a mantra…
K. Jarmuschek: …provoking. Journalistic work cannot only express the reality but also influence it. I am not that sceptic - the interest on contemporary art is actually growing again. It grows as well by the audience which comprehends that the artist has the same age and his works are pieces or reactions of reality and wants to take part. It is a stable basis which wasn't existent like that since 1945. Actually it is a phenomenon that art is not only an extension of life but a reflection or a becoming aware of life. It is a very young generation gaining a young generation of artists - the own generation. There are reasons why Erich Marx bought Cy Twombly. He told that he entered in Cy Tombly's atelier saying: Someone knows me. Someone who do think like I do.
AfN: A mirror of mind.
K. Jarmuschek: A mirror of mind. An artist is able to express that. More than a large basis in Berlin is just doing and that is the reason why I am not worried about the market of arts. I don't think it is a danger that some artists gain less money for their works. It is just the risk our very dynamic exchange includes.
AfN: A closing question, Mr. Jarmuschek. Do you have a personal motto or slogan for your life?
K. Jarmuschek: A personal motto? Yes - don't fear any situation. Get involved with a situation. Perhaps that's it.
AfN: Thank you very much for this interview, Mr. Jarmuschek.
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