BERLIN – Zurich gallery THE PROPOSAL first opened in 2011 with the idea of offering an unprecedented intimacy between art and viewer. The space doubles as a bed-and-breakfast where both intrigued visitors and potential patrons can arrange to sleep alongside the displayed artwork. Whether the guests’ intention be a novel aesthetic experience or a ‘try-before-you-buy’, the gallery’s exhibitions are united by their status as ‘proposals’: they are not artworks, but prototypes of possible artwork. The viewers’ reactions to and interactions with these prototypes then contribute to the final product.
The overwhelming feedback the gallery’s first five proposals have generated now leads its curators to explore the concept’s spatial possibilities in other locations. Each of these satellites – conceived in cooperation with designer Christian Weber and sharing the name ‘The Tower’ – is a compact, portable, two-level housing module composed of glass and steel that allows its guests a 360-degree view of an exhibition in whatever environment it may be installed.
The first 'Tower' will not actually be realised until May. In a meta-artistic twist, 'The Tower' is currently just a prototype consisting of architectural drawings of the structure itself. However, the prototype still goes so far as to incorporate the mobility of its vision. This and several other possible artworks – together constituting Proposal No. 6 – have occupied a showroom in Berlin designed by gallery founder Jeremie Maret. He shares more about this extension of THE PROPOSAL.
What particular influences do you cite for THE PROPOSAL?
Most of the time involved in the production process for artists in Europe – including myself – comprises writing proposals on DIN A4 paper to apply for funding from the state and/or private institutions, instead of producing art right away. I decided to display these proposals directly to the public instead of waiting for a jury to approve them.
I am also very concerned by the status of the modern art market, having worked for numerous collectors and institutions in the past. Dealing oil is more transparent than dealing with contemporary art these days. THE PROPOSAL attempts to create a closed circuit for artists to produce and exhibit their work, regardless of its market value.
Why have you chosen this location for Proposal No. 6?
I was actually about to settle with this underground garage on the Strausberger Platz I had found through a real estate website. It really wasn't the best location for a gallery, but affordable spaces are becoming scarce in Berlin. By my luck, the landlord of this garage, Axel Haubrok, is an avid patron of conceptual art. He had bought an 18,000-sqm property known as the Fahrbereitschaft in the former GDR district of Lichtenberg a couple years ago and now rents out its existing buildings to artists and small businesses. The gatehouse on this site was the perfect match for our concept.
How do you feel an architectural space contributes to the experience of art?
Architectural space is the playground of all my work, as I always adapt my proposals to their specific environment. THE PROPOSAL is accordingly to be seen as a systematic interplay between a suggestion and its surrounding. This process ordinarily includes a subject, an audience and a space, but the offer to host visitors contributes the most important aspect: time. ‘The Tower’, by extension, is to be seen as an observation platform for our exhibitions. This ‘art-chitecture’ will allow its guests to sleep, observe and create wherever we may find a space that fits an exhibition proposal.