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For the third installment of Art Voices, our collaborative content project with Red Bull Arts, we’re exploring the theme of New Spaces. Safe spaces and welcoming communities are often a catalyst for progressive ideas and creative output.  Spaces, which can be as simple as a friends apartment and as complicated as a public square, endow individuals with the ability to form communities, create bonds, and nourish thought. They are a vital fiber in a cities landscape.

Space is constantly contested, analyzed, and fought over especially as cities succumb to 21st century gentrification. We asked a diverse, creative field how they ponder space. How does on support and promote new communities? How do we deal with ownership and privatization in an increasingly corporate world?

Read on to hear from Bridget Finn and Terese Reyes, Saskia and Christian, Cynthia Daignault, Sanford Biggers, Jonathan Travis, and Khalid Livingston.

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Bridget Finn and Terese Reyes

Bridget Finn and Terese Reyes
Bridget Finn and Terese Reyes are co-founders of Detroit gallery Reyes | Finn

Being in Detroit we are part of an established arts community—one that existed long before our arrival. Our aim is to put our 20 years of cumulative experience to use here and help support Detroit's art community. We are working to develop our relationships with artists working here, in the Detroit area. We are also working to bring artists with strong practice to the gallery to give our audience an opportunity to see artwork by artists who otherwise may not show in the Detroit area. Stepping into your local gallery is one way of supporting your own arts community, especially if you take the time to get to know the artists and dealers in your area.

When we think about ownership, we tend to redefine ownership as a “platform for engagement and participation.” Meaning, an audience can go to a gallery which is free and open to the public, take in an exhibition and then if they feel inclined they can inquire about owning an artwork. By making the decision to acquire a work that audience member had decided that they want to continue that engagement with said artist. They want to bring that artist’s practice into their home or (if they have prioritized collecting artwork in their lives) into the legacy of their collection. This acquisition binds the artist and collector/collection and the gallery helps to facilitate and maintain that very important long-term relationship.

Saskia and Christian

Saskia and Christian
Christian and Saskia are the owners of Galerie Nagel Draxler, which operates in Cologne and Berlin.

We have a very clear definition of how we discover, support, and promote different spaces and communities: Be conservative in Berlin, and experimental in Cologne. In Cologne in addition to our gallery space we operate a project space in a travel agency.

The gallery for us is like a public space. As we live in times of ongoing privatisation of public space, we see ownership and space as opposites. In our four spaces in Berlin and Cologne we stage about 20 exhibitions a year, all free to the public, and without any “sponsor branding.” We believe in responsible ownership (with ownership comes responsibility). Fragmented ownership is the worst enemy of responsible ownership, because it's only purpose is trading abstracted units.

Cynthia Daignault

Cynthia Daignault
Cynthia Daignault is a painter living and working in Baltimore.

Space is complicated, and less about ownership than social contracts. I’m more interested in post-space. At this moment, our lives are split between the physical and virtual worlds. As digital cusp people, we have a hybrid consciousness, reflected in both art and ownership. Take Felix Gonzalez-Torres (whose first major show happened in the year the World Wide Web was invented, 1989). Consider one of his candy piles. These works have both a physical element–a pile of candy–and a virtual element–a certificate of authenticity granting the right to manifest the work according to a set of parameters. As we move closer to the singularity (the moment we upload our consciousness into the neural net), we will move even further towards this infinite virtuality and away from our mortal decay. Art and Ownership have already shifted in that direction: certificates of authenticity; co-ownership agreements; works that are ineffable. How will this continue to change when we are no longer tied to our bodies at all, but freed completely to our avatars? What of an art object that is infinite, or intangible, or mutable? How does ownership shift when a work can be in 1000 places at once or nowhere? Think of ‘space’ not as a room, but an infinite post-Euclidian multi-dimensional plane and artwork as a shimmering cloud of astral dust.  

And, to be honest, as a painter I don’t have much time for community, new or old. Painting is an encompassing, solo practice. I’m racing against my own death and find little time to venture beyond my own walls. My studio is a fortressed city of one, but my work is a medieval tinker, carrying my ideas out into the world for me, lashed to a mule-driven cart. My paintings are envoys; they take remote journeys that I don’t have time to make. That said the discovery and promotion of new communities happens fluidly as a byproduct of living. Humans are social creatures. Inevitably, we seek out other primates with whom we can eat ants off a stick, or at whom can hurl our own poo. I live in Baltimore. Charm City. I grew up there, and I make my work there surrounded by so many inspiring people. It’s an incredible place to be an artist.

Sanford Biggers

Sanford Biggers
Sanford Biggers is a visual artist, teacher, and musician

Don't move into a "new" neighborhood and impose your predilections, take your viewpoint and expertise and consciously join the existing community that you just moved into. Communicate with people outside of your circle IRL! Don't believe the binary. When viewing art, talk to those around you who you don't already know.

By getting involved on any level you can combat inequalities and find communities! For all of our digital bluster, most folks would rather talk or post than actually DO something. Hire qualified individuals from groups that are typically marginalized and don't be lazy and assume "they don't exist". Do the work and find the right channels; I guarantee they actually do exist. Don't just exhibit or buy the work of any currently trending demographic, discover where their themes of interest intersect with yours and educate yourself on who their creative mentors and predecessors are. Donate to causes your favorite artists and/or institutions contribute their time and resources to.

Visual art has the unique ability to use sophisticated visual, conceptual, historical and even social devices that I believe more adequately address the complexities and nuances of past and current times. This act of creative commentary is one of the most poignant and potentially disruptive roles of art.

Khalid Livingston

Khalid Livingston
Founder, outlet.fyi

Through shifts of perspectives, a foundation in empathy, and an acknowledgment of their existence outside of our own experience, we can identify and share resources that sustain growing communities and spaces. And by expanding the purpose of these spaces beyond ownership and introducing them to new audiences outside of the art ecosystem, the concept of ownership will evolve into a new economy that will define itself.

Image by Chris Luttrell

Jonathan Travis

Jonathan Travis
A Partner at Redwood Property Group

In my line of work, new spaces are discovered and arts communities  developed through architecture, neighborhood feel, and economics. The first question nearly always asked by clients is, "do the bones of this space allow my exhibition program to function as it should?".  Those bones are often referring to high ceilings, substantial width, and column spacing.  Then come the economics and authenticity of a true New York neighborhood. 

Unless otherwise noted portraits by Laurel Golio.