#ARTLIFE 3: FOMA - Behind the scenes

FOMA was a collaboration with Edmond Landwehr, AK24. Two young initiatives working together to boost the art scene after the corona crisis impact on the industry. 29 artists, 100m2, 2 months of preparation...we're taking you behind the scenes of this ambitious project.

THE LOCATION

Not having one fixed location means that we travel through temporary spaces in Utrecht with our projects and exhibitions. The location for this particular show was the formal building of Broese, a bookshop in the heart of the city center.

For years this building was known for the city's library and bookshop until they moved to a new location in the formal postal office on the Neude square. 

I wonder what this place is gonna become in the future... But first, we had the opportunity to work on a location that was perfect for our goal: provide a platform and exposure for artists in Utrecht. Location set, now it's time to invite cool artists to make a show together!

ONLINE EXPOSURE

This was a first: scrolling through an online presentation of graduates. (Have to admit that I went straight to their Insta accounts for a better impression of the work).

We went through every category for our selection, of which we've selected around 20 artists from fine arts, graphic design, illustration, music and technology, product design, and fine art and design in education.

To show a diverse and interdisciplinary selection, we've combined works of young artists with those of more established professionals from the art scene. After contacting everyone to discuss our concept, it was time for a location visit together. I think it always works best to have a physical impression of the location and possibilities it could offer for the presentation of your work.

One of the things we promised both the artists and ourselves: we're only doing this show if we can get rid of the purple bookshelves. Never make a promise you can't keep, so here our big space transformation started.

THE TRANSFORMATION

This is the space we were working with. As you can see, the interior of the former book shop was quite present: dark purple bookshelves, desks, information signs and an old blue carpet on the floor. But it had lots of potential!

Though we couldn't change everything, we decided to build walls, creating a clear canvas including a backstage. 

Not every location needs a transformation of this scope, but in order to make FOMA happen, we needed lots of material.

To finance this, we wrote an application to the K.F. Hein Fund and the Elise Mathilde Fund. Important: you have to be a foundation in order to apply for funding. Since we are a sole proprietorship, this was a bit tricky. But thanks to the Magdalena Foundation we were able to complete our request.

Support and collaboration are important ingredients for a successful project. Surrounding yourself with a trustworthy team that helps each other is of a high value for the outcome.

Once the writing part was done, we could start building the actual space. Time wasn't on our side though: we only had one week to transform almost 100m2 before the artists would transport their work to location.

REAL FRIENDS, SWEAT TOGETHER

Obviously we wouldn't be able to finish on time with just the two of us, so luckily our friends came to help us out.

S/o to Thomas Sadee, Tutpic Megalops, Shimon Kamada, Marc-Anthony Westmaas, Lisanne Ruim, Elloreen Leupen and Iris Lageweg.

Getting around 150 pcs of 9mm MDF, 16 buckets of paint, and primer was one thing, but having everything installed onto customized wooden frames, and painted while it was 35 degrees outside was a job not to forget any time soon. 

Fun fact: the radiators in the building were on and we had to wait for a week until a mechanic was able to turn them off. So actually it was colder outside than inside the building. 

BUILDING UP THE EXHIBITION

After putting up the walls inside was done, the artwork could be transported to the location. 

Now my favourite part of making an exhibition could start: play around and arrange the works together to create one story. Every artist sent us a proposal for his/her work and the requirements for the presentation. According to that, Edmond and I made a draft presentation, studying every individual work and the interaction between different disciplines. 

Although preparing the presentation 'on paper' without the actual works really helps in getting to know the space and its potential, the real job in curating a show can only be done having everything in one space physically. At least, that's my opinion.

Looking for interaction between shapes and colors, discovering storylines, and playing around with 2D and 3D artworks within the space is how I usually approach the presentation.

We also had the shop windows as an extension of the presentation inside. This was a nice chance to attract an audience after closing hours.  

SHOWTIME!

Finally, after 1,5 months of hard work, it was time to open FOMA for the audience. Although we weren't able to host an official opening like usual, our first day was a big success with over 500 visitors! 

Our enthusiastic hosts welcomed every visitor and the artists were there to talk about their work. The exclusive performance of Zina Pusep and her crew sure added the cherry on top! 

HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Due to the success of the exhibition, we got the opportunity to extend FOMA with one more weekend. Great chance to reach even more people and offer them a chance to meet the artists and their work.

In the end, we hosted almost 3000 visitors during the exhibition days. It's safe to say that location plays a huge part in the reach and diversity of your audience.

 

One of the reasons that we persistently work in different spaces throughout the city center of Utrecht is the fact that not only the art scene is more involved within the city, but also the city is involved with the art scene. Having conversations with visitors or tourists who by accident stumbled upon the exhibition and touch people with artworks they wouldn't normally be exposed to, are foremost interesting to me. 

Up to the next show on a new location!