Schiefe Zähne (SZ) was initially more of a hybrid between project space and gallery. Now, SZ operates entirely as an artist-run gallery. Over time I have slowly grown into the economic concept of a gallery, while my perspective is still shaped by my perception as an artist and by project space work. The discussions with the artists are mostly content-related questions, including what art can actually be at the moment. I try to keep the increasing pressure for commercial success as low as possible by keeping costs down and growing slowly. In contrast to state-supported art, gallery work is hardly dependent on decision-makers and stakeholders. Being dependent on the market is certainly not easy either, but then it would be a dream to first introduce an understanding of art and awaken interest in it, and go on to being able to make a living from it.
Galleries are often formative interfaces when it comes to discovering and promoting artists and communicating about their work. Who they are depends more on the concept of art with which galleries address this question. Galleries with influential programs, like the often mentioned example of American Fine Arts, Co. interest me more than those galleries that gain legitimacy by quickly heaving something that sells well onto institutions.
A project space focuses more on exhibitions than on artists. Gallery work is a form of responsibility for taking care of communication, long-term support of the artwork, and dealing with administrative issues. It is also about developing a deeper understanding of the work, bringing artists into relationships with collectors, paying attention to whom works are sold, and establishing a level of representation. A relationship based on transparency is crucial. I see my work more as a collaboration with the artists, where we divide the work regarding dealing with art world issues and marketing. My part would then be to suggest how this can be done without unquestioningly emulating existing structures and avoiding compromising the artists’ ways of working.
Hannes Schmidt is the owner of the gallery Schiefe Zähne, Berlin, founded in 2017.