In parallel to the art fair Supermarket publishes Supermarket Catalogue and Supermarket Art Magazine. The Catalogue lists all the exhibitors and participants of the PNP programme, and provides practical information about the exhibition and the art fair. You can find the previous issues of Supermarket Catalogue in the drop-down menu.
The Supermarket Art Magazine is an important part of Supermarket’s public programme with content that highlights ideas and raises issues from the artist-run world, gives voice to local and international contributors and presents artist-run initiatives in articles and interviews. The magazine is formulated around a specific theme that changes every year.
The Art Magazine is distributed internationally and available to read online. You can browse through the previous issues in the drop-down menu.
If you would like to contribute to the Supermarket 2021 Art Magazine or have an idea that you would like to feature get in touch with the Art Magazine’s Editor-in-chief Alice Máselníková at firstname.lastname@example.org by 30 April 2021.
Supermarket 2021 theme: SHAPESHIFTERS
The idea of shapeshifting has been thrilling people throughout centuries in mythology, folk tales, literature, popular culture and religion. Shapeshifters can change their physical form, shifting between the human and inhuman, between one consciousness and the other, through skills granted by magic, good or evil, superpowers or divine order.
Shapeshifting is so alluring to us as it represents the possibility for a change for the better. It contains hope for a future contained in personal transformation, gives us power over our own destinies in times when we feel powerless; allows us to jump between dreams and realities. Shapeshifting is at the same time frightening as it serves as a reminder of justice, a righteous punishment to the wrongdoers, the fragility of existence easily tampered with by forces unknown to us. Acquiring a new shape was a common tactic of the Greek deities to implement their plans and passions – think of the ingenuity of Zeus transforming into golden rain to captivate Danae, into a bull to abduct Europa or a swan to reach Leda.
This duality of shapeshifting – voluntary and imposed, one a symbol of freedom, the other of confinement – is a mirror of real life transformations. Not every change is good or welcome. Changes feel better if we can actively take part in them. Life feels better if we believe ourselves to be powerful enough to shape our own destinies. Waking up to a bizarre reality preserves meaning only if we do not feel like a useless insect trapped in a scaled body in a small room.
This year marks the 15th international edition of Supermarket and over the time we have metamorphosed, grown and shrunk, transitioned and moved around. Continuous change and development are key characteristics of the artist-run scene – shaped by its variety, focus on cooperation, international character, underground nature, and simultaneously lack of visibility, precarious state of existence, gaps in sharing of experience and tiredness with the system. We do not know what this year or the next years will bring us, but we keep on shapeshifting, makeshifting, upshifting.
Some of our older themes:
Supermarket 2020: Fabricated
The postmodern world is a relative one, where anything can be labelled as true, beautiful or valid. Black and white is off the grid – long live the greyscale (as far as it is the right shade of grey). Yet how can one find the truth if there is no non-truth nor any interest in defining it? The world surrounding us is fabricated for our individual needs, beliefs and comfort, and constantly updated to keep us satisfied. The media and enterprises feed us with information directed by their own or their governments’ agendas that are rarely questioned. The consumer has only limited means, time or will to check them or to contemplate them in depth. We all make a choice of information sources that fit into our worldviews, we listen to facts that we want to listen to in order to feel in control of our up-to-date knowledge and to hide the unwillingness to accept someone else’s facts. Because we like to think that we intentionally choose our sources of facts, the facts are smoothly shaped for us to choose them be it through clever advertising, social media our enforcing new policies. How is information produced and consumed in a world that is centred on relativism, simplified communication, efficiency of input and output, opportunistic manipulation with facts and soft censorship?
Supermarket 2019: Temporary moratorium: all allowed?
Art in its many forms of expression has since its origins been fascinated by the unspoken. Depicting the unknown, addressing controversial subjects, breaking taboos and probing into firmly set principles, both the artist and the audience have found at the same time thrill and malaise in momentarily peeping into feared or prohibited topics. From nudity, eroticism, death and perversity to things seemingly less scandalous to portray – the issues of gender, nationality, race or freedom of speech. The limits of what is acceptable to exclaim differ from society to society, as do conventions, cultural habits and laws. They have also transformed considerably with time: subjects that used to be taboo are today passed without raising an eyebrow. What once shocked the viewer, be it sex, violence, decadence or obscenities, has become so commonplace in contemporary art that it is no longer shocking, just tiresome. At the same time, by common consensus, other less obvious topics have become undesirable to discuss, thus creating new taboos.
Although sometimes persecution follows the attention-seeking extravaganzas of artists, most often they are either generously forgiven for their eccentric but harmless caprices or, even more frequently, their artworks simply remain unnoticed outside of the self-contained artistic bubble. In this sense, contemporary art has had a privilege of nearly absolute, carefree freedom, as it is not taken that seriously outside of its own circles. There has always existed a certain moratorium in contemporary art, a state of lawlessness that shields it from the norms of the real world. Instead, it creates its own laws and follows trends of the art market. The downside of this freedom, however, is the lack of wider impact and self-reflection. Inside of this microcosm, everyone believes that in art, all is allowed, for it is Art and that is what makes it Real Art. Outside of it, no one cares much to see more scandalous art. What may be considered a ground-breaking milestone in the artworld often at best draws a breeze of bemused public attention to the decadent and aimless existence of a contemporary artist. The common spectator wants art for the qualities ascribed to art for centuries – beauty, permanence and masterful technique – and most of all to find something relatable within.
Is contemporary art then not as relevant and revolutionary as we like to think? Could it be that it is just a comfortable way of resistance, the acquisition of yet another type of convention, for we know that we are encircled by similarly-thinking minds and a large gap shields us from the thoughts and judgments of the outside world?
The thing is that taboos have become more nuanced, whilst the temporary moratoria of art have turned permanent, stuck in their own conformism instead of challenging the constantly transforming taboo subjects. It is easy to be scandalous if no one is looking. It is even easier to believe that we, artists, are breaking boundaries with our art and challenging the viewers’ limited horizons. But what boundaries? What viewers? Are these really the taboos that still need breaking, or were they broken a long time ago? It is too simple to talk about things everyone else talks about, agree with the majority and jointly laugh at different opinions that are too different, horrible and absurd for us to wish to engage with in a debate. It is another thing to dare to question our set values, fears and principles and debate subjects that we would rather avoid. Only then will we manage to ask: what are the taboos of today?
What is a moratorium?
Loosely interpreted, moratorium is a state or a situation when some laws or agreements are temporarily invalid. You could think of it as a bubble separated for an agreed amount of time from certain laws on the outside, but still complying with the remaining laws.
Supermarket 2018: Legacy
The individual legacy or the legacy of individualism
When we selected legacy to be the overarching theme of Supermarket 2018, an album by an American band Murder by Death came to my mind. ‘Who will survive and what will be left of them?’ narrates the story of the Devil coming to a small Mexican town where he is shot and robbed whilst drinking a pint, and so he decides to take revenge on the whole city, and wipes the immoral inhabitants off the surface of the earth. Not to scrutinise the moral of the story, the title says a lot about certain questions of legacy – what consequences do my actions have? Who will remember me and how? What remains after us as humans, individuals or collectives, artists or politicians?
In the secularised and growingly atheistic western societies there are no devils or deities who can decide for us what is right or wrong, how to take the best direction or make a mark on the world; we are left by ourselves without guidelines for a good life. Artist-run art spaces that constantly deal with the ephemerality of their existence, lack of status and uncertain futures often die out without even starting to function properly. The guidelines they follow, aside from their own idealism and vision, are mostly directed by cultural policies, rental prices and overall struggle for financial survival. Interdependence with art institutions is perhaps less obvious, yet the antagonism is vital for the art sector with their different aims, structures, markets, and publics to address – and sometimes resulting in lasting collaborations.
In his ‘Winter Notes on Summer Impressions’ Dostoevsky wrote that people are no longer in need of great ideas and just want to live their own lives. He used this as a criticism of the 19th century petty bourgeoisie unable to stand up for unifying values and other than their own comfort. The pattern has re-emerged and individualism is now one of the key notions of postmodernity and liberal democracy – and, above all, marketed as its biggest achievement, with the self-indulgent “be yourself – be happy” motto appropriated as the main driving force of the era. The inspirational message of singular happiness is omnipresent in popular culture and most often devoid of any subtlety: from L’Oréal’s “Because you’re worth it,” through Nike’s “Find your greatness” or “The only limit is you,” to “Be the change you want to see in the world,” a bogus quote attributed to Gandhi, and so on. Yet it is the very principles of collaboration and shared perspective that define the nature of the non-profit art sector. Instead of nurturing the star persona of the curator or gallery director who pursues their own particular interests, a common cause is developed through shared work processes and flat hierarchy – and the pressure of the individualistic art market is thus challenged. This is important for a broader understanding of the legacy of art, as the romantic notion of artists who channel their inner genius by and for themselves, independent of the society and its demands, is a mere utopian image. It is only within a specific context where an artwork is created and gains its meaning, legibility and historical credibility.
Nevertheless, there is a major difference between the narrow-scoped legacy of individualism and individual legacy. Where the former remains within the preset limits of one monetised political ideology, the latter refers to how we utilise, contextualise and bequeath our talents, aims and efforts.
All texts by Alice Máselníková.