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LISTE’s founding in 1996 opened new doors for an in-between generation of galleries—artistically and stylistically ready for a fair, but perhaps not one quite as big as Art Basel. Since then, it has gained global
recognition as a respected and significant stepping-stone for galleries before they commit to showing at larger fairs. Each year, around 80 galleries from more than 30 countries are represented, with many new to the roster. For the 2018 edition, Whitewaller spoke with LISTE’s director, Peter Blauer, about the fair’s emphasis on quality, and the fair’s continuation of Performance Project, located around the city.
WHITEWALLER: For your 2018 edition, are there any galleries or countries making their LISTE debut that you’re particularly excited about?
PETER BLAUER: The world has gotten smaller—everything has begun moving closer together. As media becomes almost omnipresent on the planet, we can gain access to almost all available information about faraway and unknown parts of the world and their art. It’s no surprise, then, that new countries are represented at LISTE. But there is still a large market out there to be conquered.
El Apartamento, a gallery from Havana, represents the first time that Cuba will have a presence at LISTE. Communist countries are now thronging to capitalist markets—we’ve been seeing that with China for quite some time. In total, 32 countries will be represented at LISTE. (In I996, the number was 12.) It is very important to us that our galleries do not hail only from the world’s large art centers. Thus, we have cities like Lima, Cape Town, Vigo, Dubai, Cairo, Wellington, Bogotá, Bucharest, Pristina, Glasgow, Modica, Beirut, São Paulo, Guatemala City, and Tallinn represented at LISTE. They are all very dedicated, exciting galleries that are serving their cities with important cultural work.
WW: Is there an on-the-rise medium or practice that you’re seeing more today than in the past?
PB: Before 2008 and prior to the economic crisis, most galleries were showing new media, e.g., video. Unfortunately, the crisis made things more conservative. Here, a little exaggeration: painting, sculpture, and more painting. We want to push back a bit on that. We have awarded a reduced stand price to galleries hosting outstanding projects. This prize was financed by the newly founded Friends of LISTE. As a result, we will increasingly encounter videos, sound and light installations, and performances at the stands.
WW: Two years ago, you told us that there are more and more artists working with new media. Tell us about the role new media plays in this year’s fair.
PB: As I just mentioned, we will again have more video works. I think it is important to introduce our new video and Internet generation. But I also know that buyers have, unfortunately, also become more
conservative, and it has again become more difficult to sell video works. Fortunately for video, though, there are open-minded and specialized collectors and institutions.
WW: What types of decisions are you making with LISTE to ensure that its success has significance, and a rich history?
PB: To not be oriented toward money and what is fashionable. To not get swept up in all the fancy trappings or what is actually more peripheral. There are fairs where I have the impression that all the side stuff is now more important than the galleries themselves. We’re not naive or out of touch with what’s out there. And we do react to trends. But quality has been, and is, our priority! That’s also why we are so small. We don’t introduce 150 galleries (although that would be great for our bank account). No—79. At that size, we can maintain the quality we want and improve.