In a moving statement issued yesterday, AKAA, a new art fair for which was to have taken place in Paris from December 3 to 6, announced a postponement.
Cape Town galleries SMITH and SMAC and the Hazard Gallery from Johannesburg were two of the 28 who would have exhibited their artists’ work.
The statement from the AKAA organisers read: ‘Following the attacks of Friday, November 13th that plunged Paris into mourning, we had decided, despite the horror and sadness, that we would still mount the first edition of our fair in December as planned. We felt strongly that the principle of liberté, which is integral to France’s identity, demanded that we not back down.
‘Yet the ensuing days have seen a continuation of tragic events. After the terrorist attacks in Paris, Bamako suffered its own attack, and as of this writing Brussels is still under an intense high-alert that has virtually shut down the city. This context generates a lot of anxiety, and rightly so.
The attacks, designed to sow terror, also aim to weaken our economic and social organizations. Although the measures put in place by our President give us some assurance, they also highlight the reality that there is still inherent risk in the current situation.
‘Our fair is composed of galleries, 60% of which are foreign, and artists, 90% of whom are from other countries. These participants quickly expressed their deep concern in regards to both the security dimension and the economic risk that would cast a pall over the fair.
‘Today, we feel we have no choice but to face the obvious.
A fair that does not meet the needs of its participants would be unjust to all players in the art world (artists, galleries, collectors, and visitors). If economic results are compromised, a likely scenario, we could jeopardize the sustainability of the fair for the future and damage the economic viability of our exhibitors and artists.
‘Despite the considerable resources that would be deployed by AKAA and the Carreau du Temple in the security plan, there are psychological factors that cannot be controlled: the confidence and desire of collectors to invest in art in the current unsettled climate.
‘We have decided to postpone the first edition of AKAA so that, at a later date, we can offer everyone the necessary conditions that will engender cultural and commercial exchanges in a more assured climate.
‘This decision was the fruit of long and careful reflection, shared with our team, our selection committee, galleries, and partners.
‘Although our event will not take place as scheduled, AKAA’s first edition is now being rescheduled for a new date in 2016, to be announced soon. However, we are pleased to announce that we will maintain the festive events already planned for professionals and AKAA partners off-site.
All of AKAA’s members, friends, exhibitors, and partners remain united against barbarism. Today, more than ever, we must act together to celebrate life and peace. In this spirit, art and culture play a key role and we at AKAA are committed to do our part.’
Amy Ellenbogen of Cape Town’s Smith Gallery, which opened its doors early this year, commented “As you can imagine we are disappointed not to be going to AKAA, however we feel that to postpone the event is the right decision given the current political climate.
We have much sympathy for all those affected by events in Paris and are obviously disappointed. We are a new gallery and it was a great honour to be selected to attend AKAA but after the tragic events that took place in Paris we were concerned that fair attendance would be poor and what the resulting economic impact would be for us. Art is a pivotal platform for social commentary and engagement so we can understand the initial response to go ahead but from a financial position the fair is a great opportunity for galleries like us to place ourselves on the international scene and we were concerned about how successful the event would prove to be. So we are ultimately relieved despite having incurred certain costs that cannot be recovered
‘Luckily for us we managed to put a hold on the artwork in transit. It was en route but still in South Africa’.
Smith was going to be represented at AKAA by Grace Cross, Jeanne Gaigher, Masi van der Heuvel, David Brits, Dale Lawrence, Jean Mathee and Kunyalala Ndlovu.