Acting as a representative for an Australian artist in Berlin
Working as an artist representative for the Australian artist Ralph Kerle - experience report by Yannick-Ole Curdt, 27, student of B.A. Creative Industries Management
My work as an artist representative for the Australian visual artist Ralph Kerle started out as a practical project in the module “Public Relations” (Prof. Dr. Biehl) on the B.A. Creative Industries Management. The aim of the project was to execute all kinds of communication to different publics and I decided to work with the artist whom our professor knew from previous academic cooperation. My goal was to find a gallery in Berlin to show Ralph Kerle’s artwork for the first time. The artist is based in Sydney and has had exhibitions in Lisbon, Riga and Melbourne. I took this further in the term break searching for a space to introduce Ralph Kerle to the Berlin art market, to build up his reputation, while further gathering practical skills applying knowledge from my study programme.
As ever so often in the Creative Industries, doors open when talking to people. Through rather random connections, I have met Till Wald, the director of the Enter Art Foundation (EAF). We spoke and he told me about their mission and scope. The Enter Art Foundation is a non-profit organization which supports emerging artists and brings them in contact with gallerists and patrons. They provide a free exhibition space and 100 percent of the sales go to the artist, while artists donate one of their works for EAF’s permanent collection. Amongst the permanent collection many well-known and exciting Berlin artists can be found, so we agreed to take this forward. This was deemed a good opportunity for Ralph Kerle to show and sell his work like in a normal gallery and on the other hand, the more important point I think, this is an opportunity to network and connect with other artists, curators etc., also to get more attention for his work.
In the next step, Till Wald introduced me to Dr. Suzy Royal, the curator of EAF, to pitch Ralph for the upcoming EAF Berlin exhibition 42 Contemporary Artists + Collection. For that meeting I had prepared a presentation about Ralph’s art work and provided a folder with original samples, so called colour proofs. In the meeting, Suzy explained to me the regular procedure of how they choose the artist including all kinds of requirements and considerations regarding the exhibition space – a range of management things that you don’t see front stage as a mere visitor.
The good news: We got accepted by the EAF, and we were happy to spread this via different channels, including a video-cross link to Ralph’s home base in Sydney. Then the behind-the-scenes work started for me: Discussing with the artist and curators the individual expectations along with the aims of the exhibition and coordinating views. This is followed by practical organization: Sending inquiries off to different print shops, framers and others involved in the process of getting the expensive art work ready, negotiating with these parties. Kerle’s artwork contains a series of limited edition photographic prints that capture moments in time when nature coalesces into visual abstraction on the surface of water. The images are not photo-shopped or artificially created. They are images that nature has created and exist in reality.
Finally, the work was finally ready for hanging in the space of the EAF. What a moment it was to celebrate the opening night, the so-called vernissage!
Overall, for me it was a good and important experience, because it showed me how an artist manager needs to be organised to satisfy his or her clients, i.e. the artist, what challenges may occur and how to handle them, and I felt that I have grown with the work on this project.