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Art Talk: Barbara Galvacs on The Art Market

Art Talk: Barbara Galvacs on The Art Market



Introducing Barbara Galvacs.

Barbara Galvacs is originally from Hungary, who lives in Amsterdam. She is a photographer, a maker, editor, curator, and sometimes a mentor for photography, visual communication, and content. At the moment, she is also involving in personal branding, but mainly focusing on her own art project that is coming up soon through the course of next year. The coming art project is about grief and how people process grief, and how we can people turn around the situation. Barbara has exhibited at Art Rotterdam, Vondel CS Avrotros, Laurenskerk in Antwerp, in PH21 in Budapest, also in Accenture in the corporate environment and in the VUmc, that merged since with AMC (Amsterdam Medische Centrum). There is an exhibition of her work in the hospital of Amsterdam, the title is Kracht, which means strengths. It is about people who survive a certain life-threatening situation in their life, cancer for example. Barbara is also mentoring on an online course at the museum of modern arts in New York for Coursera, titled Seeing through photographs. 



1. Can you tell us a little bit more about the challenges of coming from Eastern Europe and actually starting your art career abroad?

BG: Yes, it is quite an interesting moment for that question as well. I believe, especially because I'm a Hungarian looking at the current situation, what the current government is doing within the EU politically which I'm not really proud of, especially because my topic is what we could call being the complete opposite. I don't believe in black and white situations on this topic. I do believe that the world is way more colorful than that. Just like inclusion is actually. It does make it quite challenging that you're not local to start with, but that would be the situation in every location. I do like to think multinational at least within Europe, if I'm looking at where my work could be shown, exhibited, or shared even as an artist. Let it be an artistic or a corporate environment, or maybe public space, which latter is a little dream of mine hopefully can come true one day together with others of course. I do think, not even only in Europe, but also globally and for any artist, I believe in that. Of course, you need to come through challenges locally, indeed, just to start with. It is also about the relationships that you build. So if you're local in a certain location, then you build your relations locally from start and, you know, then via people know each other and. As you also know, art is a world that does work highly in this method. Of course, it is also business. So it's just like any business networking. Today we are really lucky because the online world is so broad and you can basically find more or less anybody online. Then there comes when certain people are not online and that's where sometimes the biggest decisions are made. So yes, that exists. That's why I believe in a mixture of approaches to this here in the West or in East Europe.



2. What was for you personally, the biggest challenge for you here in Holland or in the art world? 

BG: Well, I think the biggest challenge is that for an artist there are certain processes in your workflow that can of course shape, but at some point, you arrive at your own workflow, and ideally you can make it consistent as well, because that's what, of course, is very interesting, especially when we're talking about collecting as well, so that it grows with time, though at the same time that kind of flow that you need to come into does require your energies. Sometimes in unexpected timeframes, it can come from each and any inspiration. You can get inspired by really unexpected things and unexpected moments. On that note, ideally, you're able to act and make something really beautiful about it. That's what of course gives you energy back as well. At the same time, you do need to manage your business as well. If you aim for going onwards and be able to roll it and you think would be doing it for a long-term, that is. Then you do need to make the space to be able to roll that creativity. To be able to tap into and I don't wanna say maximizing it, obviously, that's still businesslike, but, you know, so you need to find really a balance between. If somebody overlooks that part then it’s hard. Otherwise, it can be outsourced of course, but you do need to invest in it. That's basically what I'm saying.



3. What are the biggest differences you see between these two different worlds? Like you already mentioned some things before, but can you go maybe a little bit more in-depth?

BG: Sure. The biggest difference I would say is the audience in many characteristics. As an artist, your audience is your key. The audience is just very different in the two countries. I would like to avoid discussing the cultural differences in detail, but we can definitely touch upon the financial differences. Meaning the whole distribution of how many people are interested in your work. It's the number of people being less in Eastern Europe than in West Europe. It's just less, it's a different society. It’s also about the topics that you are busy with. It can be abstract or it can be thematic. My work is thematic, so probably that's why I'm thinking this way, but it is also different themes, different topics that are interesting in the West than in the East. Definitely, it is a whole global perspective, which is different in both places. So it's really more complex than we would think.



4. Does your art have some Eastern European style or like a style or something with characteristics from Hungary?

BG: It could be that somebody would see that way. Perhaps it might be more traditional in its topic in the approach in the sense that I believe it's quite theme-specific. So when I'm photographing about women, quite some local people are actually executing it in completely different ways and approaches, really. But that's more about going into the topic itself. So here in the Netherlands, obviously there's a huge difference between the East and the West and in the Netherlands, it's like quite strong opinions about women empowerment and it's a completely different approach in my country. I think the whole East Europe if I may say there is just a huge difference. So I do think maybe my work for some people could have that aspect in. It’s probably a mix because I'm living here for a while and I'm of course obviously influenced by these perspectives. I definitely love them. So my preference is totally here, as this was one of my reasons for moving. So yes, that's really something I'm not entirely sure about though if I'm thinking on like outside my work. From the curatorial approach that would be the case with other Eastern European photographers though. There might be some preferences in like a little bit of a touch of this. I'm daring to say a word, but I'm very cautious in choosing the right word. That sentiment about our past and about our border opening not too long ago might be potentially in it, but it's quite subtle. It's hard to put my finger on it as the English calls it, but, for example, Peter Puklus, which is a very big name in photography, with his very specific style. I would say in his work, I definitely see that kind of slight nostalgia, for me for sure. Not exactly because obviously he has his own approach to the world and his own vision. So that's what comes through for me, but it's quite fascinating indeed.



5. What are the weaknesses and trends of the art market from your perspective? Can you explain from an artist's view and a curation view about the pros, and cons you see?

BG: So from the artist's point of view depending on where an artist comes from, but definitely tapping into the potentials of your own market because it's so close to you and so much being on the same page, that's definitely something to go for and to explore and, and it might be more work for yourself as a person to connect to get the differences between the East and the West to reach out to the West and share the works. But then once that's been done, it's definitely worth the efforts for the fact that you're touching bigger circles potentially, and bigger possibilities. So what I'm saying is that there, the amount of work to go in to invest is way more but it might just be worth it for the fact that it can bring you way more forward, too. Let's go outside of Europe for a second. So I don't know, African artists, reaching out to Japan just saying something very different now. It's definitely worth it for the fact that when somebody has an international acknowledgment that does strengthen the local situation, the local approach, the local status of the artist. So doing something from East in the West, therefore can do the same, but it's not really related to within Europe. I believe. I don't know how you see this, by the way, I would be fascinated to hear your opinion.



6. Can you actually tell us more, a little bit about this topic as well as how you combine it in your work and in your projects?

BG: I've been involved in various event programming and organizing for networking also about inclusion by the big company network of Holland through the little organization that is involved in the twede kamer (the Dutch House of Representatives), so politically involved about lobbying for inclusion. These are companies that are supporting inclusion strongly and proactively, and they are organizing and sharing knowledge. So the main point is to share knowledge about what are the potential. Therefore, they are very developed because they acknowledge that inclusion is important and not only diversity because diversity and inclusion are two different things. As someone put it: 'Diversity is making sure that everybody has space at the table, a chair at the table, and inclusion is that you actually give them the possibility to voice their perspectives.’ So in a nutshell they are really focusing on inclusion, but it's quite challenging to bring it to the attention - there's a lot of psychological reasons. I have some HR in my past. There are quite some psychological natural reasons why it is very much a challenging topic, and at some point, I had the possibility to actually make an exhibition to get to the point through for a bigger audience. And that was really interesting because really the power of art is not questionable by neither of us here. 

The power of art is way more than what we would think, than what corporates would first think. It does have layers and layers and layers of communication within them with the people and it connects to emotions. Therefore, it's very valuable to bring an actual message through it. By the way, it doesn't have to be necessarily inclusion, it could be anything else, but inclusion is just something that I personally am very much involved in having women empowerment amongst within this topic as a sub-topic which is really close to me for several reasons. I do believe the Netherlands is very developed on women's empowerment. Also relatively on inclusion as well. At the same time, it's really far away from the ideal.

So there's really a lot more, to grow in this. And I do believe that every tool needs to be used to get ahead to advance this topic. This is just very close to my heart. So I was, I was extremely happy that this project came through and there were several artists who participated and everybody really valued it, including these big companies, which is very interesting in this case. The interesting part of the big companies, they all have a huge stock of art collected you know, within, but I wonder how much they deal with how it's all presented in what combinations because combinations obviously can be endless as well with the arts, with the artworks. It's just very sensitive on what message you bring through, you can actually really mix up people as well if it's not carefully curated.

I'm wondering how the future of this part will look, to be honest, so I'm really fascinated about your business as well because I believe it's crucial. Obviously, there are cases when an abstract world can make that effect. It really depends on what the company wants or what the location is, let it be on any other location, possibly. I mean, we're talking about a corporate exhibition now, but basically, we can touch upon any public space as well. So I'm just really fascinated by how this is going to continue in the future because there are so many possibilities and we get way too many visual messages into the brain daily. That as it is now, it is way less valuable on the human level. Bringing value for more people on many levels is what is next.



7. What do you think about the statement of females like in generals, females in the art industry are underrated because they are more seemed as like because there are more sexualized than men? And have you perceived something like this, like maybe from your own experiences or from experiences of your other colleagues or friends in the art industry?

BG: This is a really big question because there are really many articles about it. If this really is a hot topic at the moment and it is still growing this topic the opinions are really shared about this. So indeed there are many more men than women artists and critics would never critic a women artist as ‘brilliant'. This is just one word. But what happens is that it is a situation in the art market. It is just as much a situation anywhere else as well. So like many other industries are also a bit backward with this situation. So that's one, our art is amongst doors. And number two is that an older photographer in Holland photographed many women in the art world who are in higher art positions, for example. So it is also kind of interesting how it is distributed and how somebody is getting chosen. It is highly sensitive and highly personal, how somebody is choosing an artwork. There's obviously, the acknowledgment that someone brings, the skills that someone brings to the vision that, an artist brings of course on top of that, there are some personal choices happening, and it is just very very much a factor in how somebody is choosing now. If, if, and then there's another study, but this is by the way like I have been exploring this area for pretty long.

I also see some other dynamics there. So I don't want to go too broad here, but it does start with pink and blue when a girl is born and that is changing. And it's also a difference in East and West that is changing here more than in the East. And then we could just go on and on about that during life at some point when you're an artist you do have to voice your vision and you do have to manage your doubts about your work. It might be that generally, men are better than women. I have no clue, by the way, I wouldn't be daring to go there to judge that because we are all very different, but so that's the situation. It's just, there are so many factors to answer this question.

It's a very sensitive topic, I'm very careful in my reply as you hear, I'm very slowed down and all that. But basically, I think that's why the responsibilities, you know, our hands or so artists do actually mean. Go in and do it and don't think too much about it and keep on and be resilient in your approach. Manage your artworks and you never know where you end up there. These numbers are not going to change without women doing that. And it might be that you know, there are a lot of exceptions to this sentence. I don't want, I really don't want to, I'm really strongly avoiding generalization on this. It's really like, I think we need to pose the question to ourselves about it. There are situations where it's hard to get through as a woman, but yeah, a lot depends on you, I would say, you know, and at some point, these numbers will change.

The graduation group that I have graduated with, was that out of 40 people there were, I believe, eight men as in, original you know the gender, but there were three, hetero only or maybe one. The rest were women. Gender, in general, is actually also wider and wider to the definition. I think we just need to go forward, you know, like a Dutch does and don't think back, or don't look around, just go forward and then we can change this number, this ratio, these statistics. It is hard like in every industry to us, but it's only on us what we did achieve. I strongly believe in that.



You can find more information about Barbara Galvacs: 




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