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DC Duesseldorf Conteporary: Interview with Walter M. Gehlen

This year the DC - Duesseldorf Contemporary took place for the first time. Artfacts.Net and Vernissage TV spoke to Walter Gehlen, the director of the fair.

AfN: Today is the second day of the DC fair, yesterday the vernissage was realy crowded. So far the seems to run very well. What are your first impressions?

Gehlen: I think it's great. Three days ago, nobody knew how it was going to be like. Then the booths were constructed and the galleries came and suddenly it became clear that it was going to be a great success; because it all worked so nicely. The architecture is great and the galleries are so happy. Suddenly, when we opened the door, it was packed here with great people from all over the world, and great sales, so I am very happy at the moment.

AfN: When preparing this fair you invited a team of curators, which was involved in the selection of the galleries. Most of the galleries here are operating in an international context. So how could you manage it to make these fairattractive for the participating galleries and how important was the role of the curatorial team in this process.

Gehlen: The role of the curatorial team was quite important. Because the galleries really trusted in the setup of having the curators choose, pre-select a list of galleries. So everyone who has been invited will be an excellent gallery. They trusted us that the final result, the final set of exhibitors, would be a well chosen selection and that was one big point.

The other big point was that we are here in Düsseldorf and the city had quite an impact in the history of art. Everybody knows that, and the policy, here in Düsseldorf, last year, concerning arts, is very important. So my work for me is quite supported by this fact that a lot of people knew that Düsseldorf is really doing a lot of things, has great museums and so on and that people thought: "Okay, then let's go and have a look".

Valerie Favre at Barbara Thumm Gallery

AfN: You also had a strong support from the city of duesseldorf. There are related events during the fair. For example a museums night, in which the DC is also included. How important was this support from the city council and can this support also be a benefit for the whole region?

Gehlen: Yes, of course. If you want to support a region in terms of art and culture, it's so important to connect all the things that have to do with culture and art. And this is exactly what Düsseldorf has done for us. They have helped us integrate all these different things and to focus them on this particular time of the year when we have this art fair. So, all the institutions have great museum shows, we have VIP receptions at these museums, etc. This was quite important for our work here.

AfN: The fair runs concurrently with the Art Cologne, which is the oldest art fair in the world. It just changed its date from fall to spring. Do you see the Art Cologne as an opponent or can both fairs benefit from each other.

Gehlen: Well, I think both fairs can benefit from each other quite nicely. It's a polycentric situation; it's a region with two centres: Cologne and Düsseldorf. And these two centres host two strong fairs at the same time and this is very attractive for collectors because they come to Germany, to the Rhineland area and they have the chance to see two different worlds in the context of art. This is quite attractive and, as we can see here, a lot of people use this opportunity to come to Germany. And this is great.

AfN: Where do you see your fair in five years. Espacially in terms of quantity and quality?

Gehlen: I think we will always have between seventy aand hundred galleries, this will be the number of exhibitors that we want to have here. I think it's quite important just to ensure that the fair is concentrated, so that you can walk through the fair and it takes maybe two or three hours and you have the impression that you have seen everything. I think that's quite important. And it's not so exhausting.

We will go ahead as we started: we will concentrate on contemporary art and we will also keep on working with curators; because this is a very good way to select the galleries for the show.

AfN: Thank you very much!

Gehlen: Thank you.

This interview can also be viewed as a video on

Interview: Tobias Hilger

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