London Special 4: Alexis Hubshman at Scope London
AfN: This is an interview with Alexis Hubshman the president of scope art fair at scope London 2006.
Alexis Hubshman: I´m certainly honored to be sitting here with you.
AfN: Hello Alexis, it is an honour for us too. Tell us when did you enter the business of organizing art fairs and are you the founder of SCOPE?
Alexis Hubshman: I entered the buissnes by accident in 2002 and I´m the founder of SCOPE so I believe in being generous in sharing with people who´ve been around you and worked with you. I´m the sole owner since day one and I´am the one who puts the money and puts the energy in. But I had a few people I´ve worked with the last three years and each of them deserves equal share of respect for their affords. But certainly at the end of the day the fish stinks from the head down and that would be me.
AfN: But how did you come to the art world?
Alexis Hubshman: I´m an artist. And I guess about ten years ago I was encountering the fact that a lot of the young galleries and gallerists that I knew didn`t really have the connections with the money to get into the bigger fairs. And I became a bit disendfranchised with that sort of system of who you know and these social networks. And their was the model of what the Armory had done and it was such a sort of slow organic development. But once it started it was a kind of a downhill rock, we knew what we wanted to do and it kept rolling. And from day one it was very centric to the artists. But there was something special from day one, being an artist, and doing this out of your knee supposed to being a businessman an doing it out of your wallet.
AfN: Scope was one of the first organizing co-events to major art fairs. Where was your first edition?
Alexis Hubshman: The first one was in conjunction with the May Contemporary Auctions in New York not the Armory itself. And that was once again a learning lesson for Miami. It was got to do a fair alongside of Basel and Basel pulled out because of 9/11 and we did one called Fast Forward which I really consider the first art fair I ever did even before the one in New York. That was in 2001 during that december season. But really after that second and the first official Scope in New York during the May Auctions it became clear to me that it makes sense to take advantage of the marketing energy of these larger fairs.
AfN: Scope is, as far as I am aware of - the first fair operating in different cities following Basel and Armory Show in New York. Are you planning to expand your operation field geographically?
Alexis Hubshman: Yes, we are now close to a pretty incredible deal for Basel. It´s a three year deal for a venue 500 ft away from the front door of Art Basel. It´s a 30,000 square foot space.
AfN: Another question about geography. I am from Europe so I do not know anything about Hampton. What is the story behind that venue?
Alexis Hubshman: It´s actually a holdover from the first buisness I ever started. My idea was, why not taking some good art to all the collectors I know, to all the homes I know, to all the places I know, two hours away from the city where´s a concentration of money and educated people.
AfN: The next station is Miami. There's quite a hype within the contemporary art world about Miami. I've heard rumours that there will be 12 extra shows during Basel Miami. How do you response do that development?
Alexis Hubshman: I look at it in two different ways. I have a jaded outlook. I have been there until day one, when it was Art Basel and myself and it was for two years like that. And the it slowly grew, and what you realise is like myself starting my fair and being able to give galleries a chance to get into another fair and then deserving it. I´m respectful and considered of any opportunity for an arist to get exposure, for a gallerist to show their work. Their does come a certain saturation point. And all you have to do is to look at the list of galleries and understand that at a certain point a lot of them have somehow not made their bones, they´d not found their feet or legs with the respecter.
AfN: So you are talking about profesionalism?
Alexis Hubshman: I think profesionalism and I think respect for not just taking peoples money because they want to give it to you.
AfN: But as I know you will move from Miami Beach to Miami City.
Alexis Hubshman: For this reason I will.
AfN: But then the people have to travell, do you not think that´s a problem?
Alexis Hubshman: You know, I learned a lesson here in London. When I opened my gallery I believed one thing, when persons walked into the door, they were there because they wanted to be there. And that to me is a superimportant point. Well, it could be discomforting for my exhibitors or people when they don´t see packed hallways. At the same time when the important collectors come through, who are looking for the important work, I never have a concern for that. Not to mention we taking the town house hotel over, I have Landrovers from one of my sponsor, I´ve got VIP-vehicles... Here in London this is my smallest budget fair, so this is back to our roots.
AfN: What I like too is this environment. I like this kind of grassroot movement...
Alexis Hubshman: Exactly.
AfN: ...I just had a discussion with Amanda Sharp from FRIEZE, an I was talking with her about expactations. Because this is the thing, you go to big fairs and you expect something and you get it and then it gets boring if the galleries don´t do something extraordinary. Mostly they don´t because they put a lot of money into the fair and they are afraid of loosing this money.
Alexis Hubshman: Absolutely. It is what it is. Just like this a lot of galleries respectfully, who are the big galleries who create our market. What you really want when you´re a collector is you like to go hunting around under the rocks and the leafes and the trees and when you find a special thing and it makes you feel something special. And you wake up the middel of the night and you´re going to the bathroom and you see this little piece that you found somewhere, it makes your heart feel something. And one thing I´am very excited about. I think Miami will show Scopes young roots and actually where we´ve arrived.
AfN: If I would ask you for a slogan. What would it be for the scope?
Alexis Hubshman: As I say, it´s turning viewers into users. Engaging with the worth, taking time, having no choice but to answer your own questions.
AfN: Alexis, thank you for the interview.
Alexis Hubshman: I´m honoured.
The interview can also be viewed as a video on Vernissage TV: Part 1 and Part 2
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