Meet the creatives reshaping modern art collections in a bid to battle populism

Meet the creatives reshaping modern art collections in a bid to battle populism
Free Thinking is For Free, by Chicks on Speed (Melissa E. Logan & A.L. Steiner) (2018). Image: Melissa E. Logan

31 October 2018

Most art collections fall into two categories: those owned by wealthy citizens, or those squirrelled away by institutions.

Collection Collective wants to offer an alternative. Their prototype collection is owned and managed by its members: artists, curators and academics who donate their work instead of selling it. But the group isn’t asking artists to give up their fees for nothing. The collective sees their model as a vital alternative amid growing political pressure on the region’s conventional art spaces. Recent high profile examples include the Frida Karlo exhibition in Budapest, which was denounced as “communist”.

“Collection Collective does not impose a topic that artists should address in order to become members,” says collective organisers Judit Angel, Raluca Voinea, and Vlad Morariu. “The only duty artists should have as artists is to make good and honest art.”

“[But] we believe that our format assures a safety net against populist politics, which in certain parts of the globe have already created a hostile environment for progressive cultural institutions and artistic practices.”

Some 42 pieces have already been given to the collection, which is stored in members’ homes before being lent out to shows and exhibitions. An online catalogue on the collective’s website, which was launched in Bucharest last week, then brings the artwork together digitally. While most of the collective is currently based in Eastern Europe, its members see a future that spreads across global borders.

“Eastern Europe is more exposed to [populism] because of its fragile democracies, but populism is spreading out like a virus, without borders or regions. In contaminated zones, the differences between others — local, global, and “us”, dissolve,” say Anca Benera and Arnold Estefan, two artists which belong to the collective. “It is not just a pressing Easter European issue, but a global one.”