Supermarket blog and social media
20–26 April
Supermarket blog and social media
20–26 April

Supermarket blog

Q&A with Alicja Kaczmarek from Centrala

Centrala from Birmingham, UK is the only publicly funded gallery for Central and Eastern European art in the UK, and the only such space outside London with a national and international reach. We spoke to Alicja Kaczmarek, the founder and director of Centrala, about the space’s main concepts and her expectations of SUPERMARKET 2019. We also inquired about the collaborative exhibition that they are bringing to Stockholm in April which features a mix of artists from the UK and Sweden, working together with one of this year’s associate galleries, Studio44 from Stockholm. 

Could you tell us a little bit about your space?

Centrala is a unique, multi-functional space consisting of a gallery, event space, café and meeting rooms. We are space for people to come together, be creative and engage with the arts, culture, history and social politics of Central and Eastern Europe.

We are the only organisation of our kind in Arts Council England's National Portfolio and the only gallery to focus on socially-engaged art and artists from Central and Eastern Europe. We are open and accessible to a wide range of audiences, providing opportunities to engage with Central and Eastern European culture as well as an eclectic array of art, music, talks and events. 

What is your exhibition project The Digital Diaspora about?

The Digital Diaspora is an international exchange exhibition organised in collaboration with Short Circuit* and Studio44 from Stockholm. The exhibition is based on the topics of unity and division and the project lays particular emphasis on Europe as its arrival marks thirty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent overthrow of Communist rule. Providing an opportunity to reflect on the collapse of the Soviet Union and the opening up of Eastern Europe, the exhibition also takes place during the British Exit from the European Union. Through performative action and immersive and interactive measures, the artworks directly respond to the current socio-political climate of the continent by addressing key issues of migration, borders, territory, cultural identity, belonging and isolation. Most artists in the exhibition reveal a deeply personal connection to their work through direct associations with their cultural backgrounds, personal histories or relationships cultivated over many years of ethnographic research. Mirroring the physical movement of the diasporic communities, the artworks will also migrate in an attempt to bypass physical boundaries and establish more human and digital connections. This innovative structure requires artworks to arrive at each exhibition venue independently using the internet as a conduit.

Artists working with digital media and moving image have been selected as their interdisciplinary mode of practice produces work in a pre-digitised format. Artworks will be transported via the internet to re-materialise at the Studio44 exhibition space in Stockholm. This process aims to provide aesthetic cloning of the same grouping of works as they are received at both venues. It proposes a fluid, experimental approach of exhibition-making that allows the artworks to continually ebb and flow between physical and virtual forms and thresholds. This method enables the sharing of new ideas, draws connections between artists across geographical boundaries, attracts new audiences and allows for the diffusion of knowledge and local cultures. It meanwhile opens up a continued international dialogue between artists and curators and ultimately promotes transnational partnership and mobility.

You are participating in SUPERMARKET for the first time. What do you look forward to the most?

SUPERMARKET is an excellent opportunity to meet curators from galleries, project spaces and artists’ initiatives from all over the world. We are looking forward to building new networks on Central and Eastern Europe art scene, exchange our ideas and perception of today’s reality with people who are engaged in art. Now the most critical issue for us is socio-political climate, especially contemporary issues of migration, borders, territory, cultural identity, belonging and isolation. Taking part in Supermarket 2019 – Stockholm Independent Art Fair, we want to pay attention to all these issues, which play a vital role in social life.

* Short Circuit is an international platform for collaborative practices in digital art and moving image, developed and directed by curator and producer Aly Grimes. 

Tamara Kametani, Total Security Life, 2018
Jens Masimov, Mapping Through Network Technologies, 2019
Zoe Aiano, Nebeski šeta:̌/Skywalker, 2019
Anna Jochymek, 'Crowd Crystal (in progress)'.

Breakfast with Oree Holban & Elyasaf Kowner

During Supermarket 2018, Oree Holban’s colourful toy store ‘Boys “R” Girls’ lit up Nulobaz cooperative gallery’s exhibition booth, displaying the delicate balance between playfulness and austerity in gender transgressive art. For Supermarket 2019 (4–7 April), Nulobaz cooperative gallery once more presents a strong narrative with featured artists Elyasaf Kowner, Avi Levin and Rakefet Viner Omer who is returning again after having contributed to ‘Boys “R” Girls’ in 2018. This time they are joining together in the spirit of Josef Kowner (b. 1895) a prolific painter and holocaust survivor, who immigrated to Sweden after WWII.  

While exploring Israel this winter, our press officer Felicia Gränd had breakfast with Oree Holban and Elyasaf Kowner on a sunny November morning in Tel Aviv – and seized the opportunity to ask a few questions.  

Oree Holban: 

1. Having taken part in Supermarket nearly a year ago now, what are your reflections today? 

I think it was a wonderful opportunity to exhibit a project I had been dreaming of for a long time. I love the fact that it was in Sweden; it feels like a perfect place to initiate the first transgender toy store! But most of all I feel grateful to have had generous, funny and moving encounters with people – be it the staff at Supermarket, the participants, the visitors or just random people in the city of Stockholm. 

2. Do you have any general thoughts on the format of the art fair? As a means for personal exposure, but also as an important artistic hub?  

Perhaps more site-specific installations, or works that ‘take over’, spread across or in-between the various spaces, so that it is more like one big continuous immersive artwork, rather than the typical art fair white cube ‘boxes’.  

3. Tel Aviv is a city that has a lot to offer to those looking to indulge in cultural activities. Are there any highlights especially relevant for art lovers that you would like to pinpoint? 

Well, I guess I can not beat social media to that. But I would try to look at museums, galleries and music shows that are outside of Tel Aviv, because it's cool to travel and discover rural areas. Sure it can be fun to indulge and consume art in the city, but best is if one can combine it with some invaluable fresh air in nature.

4. Finally, the next edition of Supermarket revolves around the theme of ’Temporary Moratorium’ and subjects shrouded in taboo. What do you think is controversial in contemporary art? If anything? 

Delivering a message without falling into self-judgment, sarcasm or fake ‘new age’ smiles. It might even be about being happy, peaceful and innocent. :)

Elyasaf Kowner: 

1. Your artistic practice centers around concepts such as transformation and the impact of creativity across the globe. With that in mind do you think there are more or less successful recipes for cultural exchange?   

People tend to be very judgemental and I think that the basic ingredients in the recipe for cultural exchange are trust, kindness and respect for others. I have created art in NYC, The Hague, Tokyo and Munich but making art together with a fellow artist from Beirut and exhibiting it in Israel made a real difference in the scope of my existence and made me a better person.

2. Josef Kowner was not only a holocaust survivor and productive painter, but also your great-uncle. Has he served as an inspiration for your own art practice to some extent? 

The question of what I leave after I'm gone has been following me my whole life. It is only now, sitting with Maya in Zorik café that I understand the connection between this question and my great uncle Josef. I've never met him because he passed away in 1967 which was three years before I was born. My parents named me after my grandfather, Eljasz Kowner, and his brother, Josef Kowner. They found a biblical name from the book of Numbers that contains both names within it. My grandfather did not survive the holocaust whereas his brother did survive. At my parents house hangs a self portrait that Josef painted during the time of Lodz ghetto. This portrait inspired me to become an artist. With the joy of art comes a deep sense of guilt and a strange notion of absence – what is art all about? What is the meaning of human interaction? 

3. What are your expectations as we are slowly moving closer to Supermarket 2019? 

I turned to art because I was seeking answers to questions related to human existence. In reality, creating art and living this sort of life can become a burden instead of a solution. I expect to represent Nulobaz gallery together with my artist peers. Hoping to find a flow of energy, meet beautiful people and experience bonding and connection between other souls that chose to walk the path of creativity. Let’s drink a toast to this wonderful celebration of art. 

4. Finally, the next edition of Supermarket revolves around the theme of ’Temporary Moratorium’ and subjects shrouded in taboo. What do you think is controversial in contemporary art? If anything? 

Anything and any subject could be controversial once we depart from shallow stereotypes and instead dig deep. The fuss around celebrities in mainstream media creates false identities. Let's accept that all of us are celebrities and at the same time observe the human facets in famous people's lives. Accepting yourself as celebrity even if nobody cares or knows about you, even if you are not hip or just an artist whose work is all over the place. Yes, it's true – the taboo is inside me and I must release it. 

Elyasaf Kowner (left) and Oree Holban (right)

Supermarket Autumn Newsletter 2018

🍂Supermarket Autumn Newsletter 2018 is here!🍂
Updates on our autumn activities featuring Finlandsinstitutet Stockholm, BiteVilnius and The Others Art Fair, presentation of our new team member Lucie Gottlieb, upcoming opportunities, interviews with Alma Marfa (before Alma Martha/Kalashnikovv Gallery) and Ideas Block LT from Vilnius and much more.

Read it right here

What was it like volunteering at SUPERMARKET?

Every year, SUPERMARKET is made possible with the help of our amazing volunteers. We caught up with two of our dedicated volunteers for their take on volunteering at SUPERMARKET (and more than once, actually). Scroll down to read up on the experiences of Pär (English) and Stephanie (Swedish).  

Pär Elfventyr (SUPERMARKET volunteer since 10 years)

This year we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of having Pär as a SUPERMARKET volunteer. Pär has mainly worked as a photographer and he has thus been on the very front row of experiencing the artworks and performances. We talked to Pär about his experience with SUPERMARKET over the years.

How did you first come in contact with SUPERMARKET and what were your first impressions?

I was studying Museology and Curatorship at Stockholm University at the time, perhaps some ten years ago, when one of my classmates took me aside after class and told me about the opportunity. I figured, why not give it a try? I have been hooked ever since. 

My first impressions? A complex chaos, organised by emerging artists to enrich the public by colliding it with contemporary art live, heads-on. Though for my own part also a small measure of anxiety, what was this, how could I help, am I doing enough? That sort of thing. 

The first year I was only there for a day or two, as a do-it-all ferrying chairs and guiding people to the right floor back at Kulturhuset, which is where the fair was situated at the time. 

The reason I came back for a second go was because the experience had been so interesting. To find a place in a society where my interest aligns with that of so many others, where I feel my presence can make a meaningful difference? Such a feat is rare indeed. 

How do you feel that SUPERMARKET has developed since you first joined us?

It has grown smaller, if only due to lack of space (Kulturhuset was enormous) but it has also grown more cohesive. The various parts of the fair align better now in working towards a coherent whole. 

What is the best experience you have had from your job as a photographer at SUPERMARKET?

Being a photographer let me see the fair from every angle, both from behind and the front of the scene, as well as the middle of it. I've done work for the management, for individual artists, for the fair-related magazines, political groups and galleries alike. I've documented art and people and secured the history of the fair in my own archive and theirs. Picking a single, defining moment from all of this? I would think that would be the same as my defining take-away from the fair as a whole: when the people I meet are thrilled because of something that I have done has a genuine positive impact on their day and/or life. 

What advice would you give to potential volunteer applicants and people who are interested in visiting the art fair?

Don't be afraid of work. If you just follow this adage you will never be bored. There is always something to do and someone that needs doing it. The best part is helping out, full stop. 

As for visitors: talk to the artists. There is nothing they love more than engaging with someone who is willing to lend them an ear or two, and they are almost universally friendly and unquestionably weird. 

What are your favourite aspects of SUPERMARKET as a whole?

The mingling of people whose interests align with mine, and how I can make their day better just by being myself and helping out. 

What are your dreams for SUPERMARKET in the future?

Doing more, essentially. Personally being there for more shifts, and I would like to see even more galleries from unexplored places around the world. Maybe there is some cool art in the middle of the ocean that we haven't reached yet? Maybe we can host the first off-world artist-run gallery once the colonies on Mars become operational? Maybe aliens will visit and be super confused as to why we staple masses of pulped carbon to curious arrays of poly-fiber and throw crushed bugs on it in seemingly random patterns. 


Stephanie Lisak (volontär sen 2017) 

Stephanie studerar socialantropologi vid Stockholms universitet och kom först i kontakt med Supermarket 2017, via en rekommendation från en lärare vid socialantropologiska institutionen. Hon var volontär igen 2018 och kommer än en gång tillbaka 2019. Vi passade på att att ställa några frågor om erfarenheten som volontär och vilka tips hon kan dela med sig av till framtida volontärer. 

Hur kommer det sig att du sökte som volontär till SUPERMARKET?  

Det var min universitetslärare som tipsade mig om Supermarket för ungefär två år sedan. Eftersom jag är mycket fascinerad av konst, kultur och framför allt människor var det självklart för mig att söka till Supermarket efter att jag fick höra talas om konceptet. 

Hur skulle du kort beskriva upplevelsen?

Superkul! Det är ett både roligt och givande arbete som jag kan rekommendera till alla som vill veta hur en konstmässa fungerar. Som volontär på Supermarket har du möjligheten att vara en del av konstmässan från början till slut och det är en väldigt spännande process. 

Vilka lärdomar tar du med dig från att ha arbetat med mässan? Upplevde du några särskilda källor till inspiration under din tid som volontär?  

Jag har lärt mig en massa saker, men det som inspirerar mig mest när jag jobbar på Supermarket är att mässan började ganska blygsamt som Minimarket 2006, med några få gallerier involverade. Bara ett decennium senare har den expanderat och blivit så här stor med en mängd olika gallerier från ett antal platser i världen, Tel Aviv, Helsingfors, Madrid, Ottawa, Berlin, osv – så coolt!  

Har din erfarenhet som volontär under SUPERMARKET fört med sig nya kunskaper generellt så här i efterhand? 

Du får en superbra inblick i hur en konstmässa sköts. Innan du tillhandahålls pass får du kryssa i vissa områden du helst skulle vilja jobba med under mässan, listan är lång och du kan jobba med allt från att bygga upp själva mässan (förslagsvis bås till konstnärerna eller annat möblemang), till att assistera konstnärerna när de anländer med att installera deras konst eller vara behjälplig på annat sätt. Du kan jobba i samband med schemalagda ”Talks & Performance” där du ska vara en hjälpande hand för de konstnärer och andra inbjudna att prata eller på annat sätt medverka på mässan, eller du kan välja en mer cirkulerande roll där du får prova på lite allt möjligt under dagarna. Hursomhelst kommer du garanterat att få en både rolig och mångsidig erfarenhet att ta med dig vidare i livet.  

Vilka tips skulle du vilja ge framtida volontärer? 

Sök många pass både innan, under och efter mässan. På så sätt får du en övergripande bild av hur allt hänger ihop, det blir en grymt bra erfarenhet inför framtiden för dig som har planer på att fortsatt arbeta inom konstvärlden.

Are you interested in volunteering with us? Learn more right here or contact Paulina at volunteers@supermarketarfair.com. Deadline January 10, 2019. 

Stephanie Lisak
Pär Elfventyr
Photo credit: Love Misgeld

Supermarket project manager Alice Maselnikova visits Vilnius

Our project manager Alice Maselnikova is currently visiting Vilnius, Lithuania upon invitation of artist and educator Marija Griniuk (who, among other, took part in Supermarket 2018's Performance programme). Alice's visit is part of the project 'Temporary Department of Time, Space and Action', an artistic intervention into academical curriculum, which presents different artist-run initiatives from Scandinavian and Baltic countries to local art students. The project was initiated and funded through BiteVilnius. Today, Alice delivered a presentation of Supermarket at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and took part in studio visits organised by the participating students. Tomorrow the project students are presenting their works as part of the Žingsniai action event. Looking forward!