Today Tomorrow

Today + Tomorrow, a series of panel discussions investigating how London became a pivotal cultural and commercial centre for contemporary art, and what its future will be

Arts Co Co-Founder Sigrid Kirk participated in a session on 12th December, organised by the IESA MA in the Contemporary Art Market at White Cube Bermondsey.

The other panel members were Matthew Slotover, Co-Publisher, Frieze and Co-Director, Frieze Art Fair; Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor, Education and Culture of London; Hannah Barry, Director, Hannah Barry Gallery. The session was chaired by Tim Marlow, Director of Exhibitions, White Cube London.

The discussion was interesting in its focus on the perceived immunity of the art market to international travails and the growing importance of London as a hub for collectors. The reality is only the top end of the market has continued to rise, and auction prices are not always the reliable indicators they seem, due to default on sales. Does the opening of spaces in London by Pace, Spruth Magers, Zwirner, Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth point to a shifting axis of power from New York to London and is this fuelled by market conditions, a favourable environment for artists to work in, political will and frameworks or something more intangible? How has Frieze Art Fair driven this and is it sustainable? The panel’s feeling was that the excitement about BRICS and the emerging markets is being rationalized and seen as requiring a much longer-term strategy in terms of market share, and the establishment of a sustained market for artists, which is advantageous to developed centres like London. Arts Co mused that the advice Nassim Nicholas Taleb offers in his recently published book ‘Antifragile’, was analogous to the art market. Our thought was that the London art market has survived economic shocks and grown not because it is immovable but because its galleries, museums, arts spaces and artists have been mutable and open to change, bending in the face of stress; adapting and learning.