Dream Hong Kong homepage. Courtesy of Dream Hong Kong.
Dream organizers Rebecca May Marston and Barnie Page (director and associate director of London’s Limoncello Gallery, respectively), came up with the core concept on a particularly dismal final day at a fair last year. “It was a totally dead, depressing experience and we were just trying to think of ways that we could reduce our overhead,” Page recently told me over the phone. “Fairs are so expensive and we really wanted to do another fair, which we weren’t able to do for logistical reasons, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we just send a mail out to our clients as if we were doing that fair anyway?’” As the next fair rolled around, they did just that—they sent out a typical email announcement, with a small disclaimer to say they weren’t actually showing in the fair. Not only did the mailing result in replies to wish them good luck and to say “see you at the fair!”—the simple ploy garnered sales. “So we did that for a couple of fairs and then we spoke to some of our colleagues at other galleries,” Page explained. “They were initially maybe slightly outraged, and then they came around and were amazed—maybe by our cheekiness or our ingenuity.”
Left: Brian Moran, ‘Arnstein’s Ladder 1-8 (from Engineering Consent)’, 2016 at Galerie Emanual Layr. Photo courtesy of Galerie Emanual Layr and the artist; Right: Anna K.E., ‘Teen Factory – Berlin NYC (black rope)’, 2014 at Simone Subal Gallery. Photo courtesy of Simone Subal Gallery and the artist. Courtesy of Dream Hong Kong.
On the site itself, which launched this morning at 6AM GMT and runs through March 27th, each gallery is given a page that can be accessed via the Dream homepage, on which a user will find the works they would be showing if they were at an art fair that week. Galleries also have the option to add text descriptions of the works or an artist’s statement, in addition to artist bios. “We are the platform for the galleries’ content and we don’t handle any of the sales, we don’t take a fee for being part of the fair or for application or anything—and there actually is no application,” Page explained, adding that the exhibitors are determined by invitation. “It’s definitely a peer-led thing,” Marston added.
All editions of Dream will be named after the cities where fairs are clustering that week—we can expect Dream New York and Dream Basel in the coming months, to coincide with Frieze New York and Art Basel—and with each edition will come new rosters and collaborators. For Dream Hong Kong, Page and Marston teamed up with the heads of Galeria Stereo in Warsaw to choose half of the galleries to invite—and it was they who thought to focus on one gallery in each city. “Being online, obviously, you can kind of maximize on that because there are no shipping costs, so you can get people from all over, so it made sense to do it that way,” Page explained. The flexible model will allow for future iterations of Dream to take on different geographic regions or thematic focuses.
Left: Andy Boot, Untitled, 2016 at Galerie Emanuel Layr. Photo courtesy of Galerie Emanuel Layr and the artist; Right: Yonatan Vinitsky, If You Can See It, You Can Find It (The Pink Folded Shirts) S, 2016 at Limoncello. Photo courtesy of Limoncello and the artist. Courtesy of Dream Hong Kong.
While they admitted that there were a few hiccups along the way, Dream’s organizers remarked on the enthusiasm, efficiency, and cooperation of the galleries themselves. Only time will tell if it will impact the traditional art fair ecosystem, but as of now, it looks as though the Dream may affect reality.
Dream Hong Kong is on view online March 22–27, 2016.