Das Platforms / Contemporary Art

How can we always forget what we’ve always known?

by Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris

22 May 2013

There is a light shining directly onto a clock. A regular clock, with the regular time. There are two rooms adjoining each other each with a clock, table and chairs. A simple setting that does not reveal the magic that will happen here. The rooms are in the centre of the chatter and clatter. Surrounded by stalls from artists and initiatives from everywhere. Egypt. South Africa. Latvia. New Zealand. Finland. Singapore. Sodermalm. To name a few.

The moderators meet before the meetings. They double-check their participants' names and galleries. They buzz from previous meetings, they mention the pedestrian problems that come with working a festival (never enough time for eating and sleeping when there is so much else to be doing) and they chatter about those things that matter - this week, the people, the meetings.

The moderators welcome the stop/start flow of participants entering their rooms. They make people feel welcome and do the introductions. A little polite facilitation to get the conversations started. Often, the conversations take on a path of their own choosing. The moderators try to stay ahead of the river, hurriedly building dams and excavating ditches for the flowing conversation.

It’s unusual to be in a room of people you have not met before, who each live in a different part of the world, and to have, for one hour, a space to discuss the thing that propels you. This room, with its wall clock, is a mini-internet chatroom pre-wifi or dial-up. It’s a room where for an hour we discuss, we listen, we share at a pace that is formed by the group, for the group.

The internet promised these kinds of discussions in chat rooms all over the world, all the time. But it just doesn’t happen. We have the wonders of hyperlinks, opportunities to share, document and create online and this is good. I love that. I’m a big fan of the internet. But it can be an overly mediated and clunky medium. Nothing can beat being in the room. The room with the real clock, on a real wall, showing the time here, in Stockholm.

Of course, sometimes discussions go off kilter, or people want to stay with the known – how do you get your funding, what kind of publicity do you do, who is your audience – but the real action happens when we discuss risk, passion, projects, failure and why we do what we do.

‘We make art to not forget’

‘We are experts in communicating under oppression, the dictatorship has built its own systems and so have we’

‘When do we start shooting ourselves in the foot?’

‘We are using abstraction to override politics’

‘The funding bodies say our time is not worth anything’

‘Familiarily vs Experimentality. That’s what I’m interested in.’

‘We already had the hippies, we don’t need more’

‘We need the land to produce food and art. The two most important things.’

‘It would be nice if people were running into our shows’

‘We started working from internet cafes in the beginning’

‘Making is a circular process of making/satisfaction/dissatisfaction on repeat’

The meeting rooms are the liver of the body of Supermarket. Tucked away safely on Level 3, the rooms engage with digestion, filtration and are integral to the experience of Supermarket. The meetings bring us together in safe, facilitated, generous and bold discussions that otherwise would not happen. How can we forget what we we’ve always known? The listening. The partaking. The room. The clock.

SUPERMARKER 2013, Stockholm's independent Art Fair

15-17 February 2013