Illustrations by Berke Yazıcıoğlu.
This year has signaled a shift for many out of pandemic lockdown conditions and back into the regular grind. At Collecteurs, it has been a transformative year as we change with the times and circumstances. That’s why you can now experience our newly designed look and functions as well as Collecteurs’ digital marketplace CollecteursX. With exhibitions back in full flare - we recall the world’s major art events including biennales and fairs that have relaunched with puissance. Ecology remains an important subject in a now non-negatable visible global crisis which inevitably affects art and mobility. Digital solutions have rocked headlines year-round with the fall of NFTs and economic collapses. As we work through all of this from Collecteurs, we are proud to continue offering you a digital base for exhibitions, collections, research, and discussion open 24/7 with no need for costly transport or installs and with open access for all.
Throughout the year we have worked on redesigning our platform, doing a bit of renovation and adding some important features. We unveiled Collecteurs 3.0 at the end of November 2022; and while the redesign is in its early stages, we are very excited to launch the remaining features.
One important highlight for us is CollecteursX, our new blockchain integrated marketplace where artists, collectors and galleries can offer and acquire digital artworks on the blockchain (DABs). NFTs can retire - we’ve been tired of them for some time. The term used by crypto-cowboys and digital entrepreneurs used the name of art while squashing everything together from cultural objects to banal, generative images. So we decided to disrupt the system (as we often do) and create our own solution. There is a lot more in store for 2023, but for now we would like to welcome you to a new chapter in our story!
While we were working hard on developing digital solutions to an ailing world - curators and artists were busy in the run-up for the much-awaited big events of the art world. 2022 saw an overwhelming convergence of major art events.
After being delayed due to the pandemic, we saw the second time in a row that Documenta and the Venice Biennale opened in the same year. Other art events competed for public and press including: Manifesta, the Lyon Biennial, the Istanbul Biennial, the Berlin Biennial, the Kochi Muziris Biennial, and the Rencontres de Bamako among others.
We had the pleasure of chatting with Cecilia Alemani, the Artistic Director of the 59th Venice Biennale, on curating the biennale in such turbulent times. She explains in her delightful course how she came up with her concept for “The Milk of Dreams” and the difficulties she faced while curating the largest and most prestigious art event without being able to travel and holding studio visits with artists over Zoom. The surrealism-heavy exhibition was groundbreaking in that of the 213 artists that Alemani invited, the vast majority were made up of women or gender non-conforming artists.
Art fairs also came back— bigger than ever— and with it, the conversation on the art world’s carbon footprint was once again back on the table. In our column Land, Art, dedicated to the relationship of climate and art, Àngels Miralda questioned the expansion of art fairs and the ecological cost. Fairs were quick to find digital solutions to pandemic problems - and quick to abandon them as soon as possible.
Speaking of ecology, the art world saw a new wave of protests in which art was not the vehicle, but the target of activists! Which one is indispensable: life or art? The question may seem absurd but the climate activists throwing food into major artworks want us to ask this question. Their protests created great controversy in the art world. At Collecteurs, we wanted to take one step back and think about the link between the climate crisis and art. Our monthly column "Land, Art" also includes a piece on these protests and the way art responds to the catastrophe awaiting us.
Other than targets, museums have also been sites of contention for political crises. Whether the issue is the repatriation of objects looted through war and colonialism - or the sites of tension in ongoing wars - the museum has become a battlefield in 2022. The outbreak of the war in Ukraine in February 2022 changed everything - not limited to the new political order and economic struggles that the world is facing - its immediate effects were felt in the world of art.
In the run-up to the Venice Biennale, just 3 days after Russia attacked Ukraine, the curator for the Russian pavilion, Raimundas Malašauskas announced that he, along with artists Alexandra Sukhareva and Kirill Savchenkov, would resign from their posts to protest the brutal invasion. After months of work, Malašauskas wrote in a public statement “I cannot advance on working on this project in light of Russia’s military invasion and bombing of Ukraine. This war is politically and emotionally unbearable.”
In April 2022, when the 59th Venice Biennale was set to open, we produced a poignant course with curator Raimundas Malašauskas, where he delved into the details and his feelings on his resignation and on how living under Russian oppression has been a personal struggle for him as a Lithuanian curator.
We have directed similar questions to Ukrainian curator and journalist Serge Klymko, one of the founders of the Emergency Support Initiative and member of Kyiv Biennial. Àngels Miralda interviewed Klymko on how cultural life can continue in the fragile context of war and asked Klymko to shed light on the initiative. At the beginning of the war, crypto offered a digital solution to donations in Ukraine and it is still possible to donate following this link to ESI to support the ongoing struggles of cultural workers staying put in Ukraine.
At Collecteurs we believe in digital solutions for the future. We have continued to offer exhibitions, collection management services, content, and more via our online platform. While there are haptic elements to the exhibition-going experience of the physical space that won’t be replicated easily, at least not through metaverse or VR exhibitions, we at Collecteurs have always worked hard to create unique exhibition-viewing experiences online. With no traveling, no ticket fees, no VIP tickets and no closing dates. Like the exhibitions we have put together the previous years such as Félix in collaboration with Felix Gonzalez-Torres Family Archive and 1-31 curated by Adam Carr.
This year, we are proud to present our digital exhibition The Wave co-curated by Àngels Miralda and Carolina Martinez, also presented in Spanish for the first time. With contributions from 32 artists, including John Akomfrah, Adrian Paci, Patricia Domínguez, Julian Charrière, David Horvitz, Thomas Ruff, among many talented artists, The Wave is on view now and forever.
We also spoke to participating artists Daniela Medina Poch, Rosana Antolí, María Dalberg, and Marie Farrington to expand on their relationship with the sea. You can watch the short film and read the full interview here. Àngels Miralda also spoke to David Horvitz about his recurring investigations into topics that coincide with the exhibitions’ themes.
In December we opened our last exhibition of the year, ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY - a solo exhibition featuring works by Ahmet Öğüt - an artist that shares our vision of digital solutions for an ailing planet. We are looking forward to continuing our collaborations in 2023 and bringing you a lot more content, exhibitions, and exciting offers via Collecteurs.