Art Talks: Independent’s Jayne Drost

April 05, 2013 BY CAPSULESNEWS

Is New York still the center of the art world? Jayne Drost, director of the recent Independent Art Fair in New York shares her insights into the art scene in this exclusive interview.

Jayne Drost

Lives in: Williamsburg Brooklyn

Favorite bar: Beverly's

Favorite restaurant: Dil-e Punjab Deli

Currently reading: The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq; and Mousse (the Milan-based contemporary art magazine)

Describes her personal style: All black everything--the uniform of choice in the art world

Curating is a word that’s being used a lot recently in the fashion world, but you can legitimately call yourself a curator! Tell us about your career – how did you get into art curating? What do you like most about the job?

I've been working in contemporary art for almost a decade--first with museums, then with an artist, and more recently as Director of a gallery as well as Independent. It's been fascinating to have had the experience on all sides of the table.

I love collaborating with artists and helping them share their ideas and shape their career. With Independent, that collaboration happens even more so with the participating galleries--each of which represent a roster of international artists--that collectively represent some of the most exciting programs in contemporary art.

When did you decide to launch the Independent and why? Tell us the philosophy behind the Independent, and how do you select the galleries and artists you spotlight at the show?

Independent was started four years ago as an innovative and exhibition-focused approach to an art fair. All decisions about the fair are much more curatorially-driven than is typical of most art fairs, and we keep costs as low as possible for exhibitors so it is easier for them to present ambitious projects that would be very difficult to do in another context.

One key aspect to Independent is how we approach the architecture of the space: instead of using a standard layout format which mimics the white cube space of a gallery, we instead build the architecture around the art. This is important for artists who work in video, performance, or in other ways that are not easy to present in a 3-walled booth. It also keeps the space more open, more interesting, and facilitates conversation--between galleries, collectors, artists, and the artworks themselves.

We invite approximately 40-50 international galleries and non-profits to participate every year who we feel are doing some of the most important work in contemporary art. We choose the galleries and devise the layout based on a total curatorial vision for Independent rather than dividing it up based on the gallery's status (ie emerging, mid-career, non-profit), which is often what you find at other art fairs.

New York is definitely one of the most important art cities in the world. Yet we keep hearing reports that artists are getting priced out of the city, while we’ve seen several high profile art shows and independent art galleries make their way to New York in the past few years as well. What’s your take on this?

New York will continue to be the hub of the art world--no other city comes close to comparing with the number of galleries and activity of the art market in New York. It can be a difficult place for artists to live, with its high rents, small spaces, and easy distractions, which is why many artists have been moving to cities like Los Angeles and Berlin, where the pace is slower and there is more time and space to concentrate on making work.

How was the year’s show? What kind of collectors and visitors came?

This year we had 17,000 visitors, and the majority of our audience comes from the art world--collectors, curators, museum directors, writers, and many artists. We don't do any traditional advertising, which helps keep our audience more focused--quality over quantity is definitely important to us. The participating galleries want to have focused conversations rather than entertain crowds of people just looking for something to do on a Sunday afternoon.

What sorts of pieces are people looking for right now? Are there any emerging trends we should be following?

Independent tends to attract serious collectors who have confidence about their interests, instead of people who are hunting for trends or looking for something to hang above their couch. It's important to go with your gut--pursue artists or artworks that you have a genuine interest in, rather than shifting your thinking based around trends.

Who are some artists that you feel are very influential right now?

I think what is more interesting is to focus on important gallery programs rather than individual artists, and two of my favorites are 47 Canal (New York) and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler (Berlin). Rather than rehashing old ideas and nostalgia, their programs represent the future.