You recently participated in the second edition of Paramount Ranch — a fair that shows a particular side of the LA art scene. How was your experience?
I loved the experience of this fair, which was really more an enthusiastic and hippiesque get-together of colleagues, friends, artists and collectors. A place where one could actually talk and spend time with different kinds of people. Whereas at normal fairs everybody is busy and always on the run, this event provided a place to deepen relationships and bond new ties. As there was hardly any cellphone reception, people were really there instead of just checking their incoming mail or Instagram all the time. To me the Paramount Ranch was more quality time than work. It also reminded me of the very first fair we’d done, when Karma International was still a not for profit. It was the Milwaukee International organized by the Green Gallery and Scott and Tyson Reeder. This fair, had a similar feeling of familiarity. Some important friendships came out of this. For instance, we met Ida Ekblad there.
You are opening a temporary space in Mid-City, Los Angeles, on February 28. Why did you choose LA and not NYC or Mexico City?
Coming to LA had more to do with personal reasons than with a business model. We’ve been tempted by it for a long time, but then it happened rather quickly and even took us a bit by surprise. At the same time, we learned that many other galleries are moving out here, which is funny. We never looked at LA as a strategic place. We just wanted to spend some time. I am curious how large galleries moving here will affect the scene. Definitely LA is in a state of flux, and it’s exciting to be part of it. I like that the city is not as saturated as NY. It feels like there are maybe more possibilities in a certain sense, even though it definitely has a much slower pace.
Will being far away from your usual work environment affect the way you direct the gallery? Will you look for LA-based artists to expand your roster?
The temporary Karma International space in LA is definitely a place where we can try new things — like the collaboration with Juliette Blightman. But it’s just as interesting to provide artists from our own roster with the possibility of showing in a new space, a new environment and a new scene. Many of our artists do not have representation here, so it feels even more natural to invite them to show in LA. Of course they are very excited to come here. After Juliette we’ll be showing Emanuel Rossetti, who is currently in NY preparing his show for LA. In the summer we do a show with Ida Ekblad. We have offered to show in the space on West Washington for six months. What happens after that is not defined, but we’ll definitely continue doing shows in different locations in LA. One of them is already confirmed — a two-person show with Fabian Marti and Lucy Dodd. Lucy has lived in LA for a long time. I think it will be interesting working with her, as her approach to the city is so different. As for LA-based art, I think it completely makes sense to visit as many studios as we can and hopefully see lots of interesting new talents.
Juliette Blightman’s first show is called “Eden, Eden, Eden,” evoking Pierre Guyotat’s book from 1985. What does the title imply?
Isabella Bortolozzi named her second space in Berlin “Eden Eden” after the novel. Juliette has done two shows that come out of the same body of work — one for Isabella and one for us. The titles of both shows are a signifier of this tie-up. While our title refers to the space in Berlin, the title for the Berlin show, “Come inside, bitte,” has its roots in a personal story that Juliette, me and some friends experienced together. In that sense Juliette is building this bridge between Europe and LA, which seems a very familiar thing to me. As a European in LA this is what you do. You build bridges.
by Patrick Steffen