Simone Subal knows her relatively small gallery will never compete with the mega-spaces of the New York art world like Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner, but that’s OK. “It’s just not my general nature to be a cutthroat person,” she told me recently. These days, she is more focused on figuring out ways to help smaller emerging galleries like her own come together as a community and survive.
One of those ways is Condo New York, a sprawling networked co-op project that will bring 20 galleries from around the world to different locations in Manhattan. Working with Chapter NY owner Nicole Russo, Subal has convinced 16 New York enterprises to turn over part or all of their spaces—during Condo’s run from June 29 to July 28—to other galleries visiting from four continents. The goal, Russo said, is to bring young galleries—which rely on fairs for exposure but often lose money in the process—together in the hopes of creating a support system. “I like the idea of collaboration, and not only a collaboration between the visitor and the host but as a community as a whole,” Russo said. “It feels like the right time.”
Among the visiting galleries is one familiar with Condo’s format: London’s Carlos/Ishikawa, which was cofounded by Vanessa Carlos, who staged the first edition of Condo in London in 2016. Subal participated in the second edition of Condo there earlier this year, and she was so enamored of its format that she approached Carlos to discuss it. “I was like, ‘I would really like to bring it to New York,’ ” Subal told me. “She said, ‘Go for it.’ ” Subal then asked Russo, a friend of hers, to help lead the gallery-share project.
Together, Russo and Subal came up with a list of New York galleries they hoped would participate in Condo. These galleries would supply out-of-towners with exhibition space at minimal cost, just to cover rent and installation fees, and they would not take any money from sales made over the course of Condo’s run. In the end, the list includes galleries in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, among them Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, Bridget Donahue, and Andrew Kreps.
“It was a very natural dialogue—it felt really organic,” Subal said of the process. Some galleries asked to share space with exhibitors from a specific region—for example, Simon Preston Gallery will host Galeria Jacqueline Martins and Proyectos Ultravioleta, both from South America. Others relied on galleries with which they were friendly.
For Subal, Condo can slow down the gallery-going experience, but, mostly, it’s a way of pushing galleries toward being cooperative with one another. “It’s this belief in community, that we are stronger together,” she said. “To me, it’s like, ‘Let’s create something. Let’s see where it goes.’ ”
Russo pointed out that Condo opens around the same time as a city-wide survey of longtime New York poet John Giorno. That survey is itself about collaboration—it’s put on by the artist Ugo Rondinone, who is Giorno’s husband, and involves the help of 13 venues. As Russo put it, “There’s something in the air.”