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Arts.21

The young Echolot Gallery

The German art market is booming, especially in Berlin. How do eleven young artists and their gallery manager live, work, survive and succeed?

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In our eight-part series ARTS.21 takes you behind the scenes of a gallery in Mitte, the trendy arts district in the “new” old heart of the German capital. Here the 12 in Mitte introduce themselves.

Our 12 in Mitte are having a dinner party, the eleven artists and their art dealer-gallery manager, so that we can film them all together. Most of the time they are alone working. They are a pretty committed bunch: Christiane Baumgartner says she could not imagine a life without art; Sven Braun says he could not imagine doing anything else: "Nothing else could give me this kind of satisfaction".

12 in mitte gruppe

The happening place these days in the German arts scene is Berlin, and in particular the district called 'Mitte' in the new, old heart of the city, where many younger artists live and many galleries have set up shop. Our artists' gallery, Echolot, is here too. They actually own it, along with their art dealer-gallery manager. It is an experiment and meant to be a springboard into the mainstream art world. Each of the twelve helped finance the project. In exchange, each artist gets a solo exhibition once a year. The project is set to last a total of two years, one year is about up.

12 in mitte annette

Annette von Spesshardt, gallery's director

The gallery's manager, Annette von Spesshardt, set out the plan: "Over the course of these two years, my aim is to present these artists to the public - not only by co-operating with art societies, museums, other galleries or various other institutions. When the two years are over, either I will open a gallery and run it myself - as a regular established gallery like any other - and take on these artists; or - somewhat like a matchmaker - I will have been able to find other art dealers to take them on."

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Art is a tough business, and the market is unpredictable: few young artists make a living as artists. Nonetheless, our 12 in Mitte are determined to make it. They started with some degree of optimism and self-confidence, and a little nervousness, because most of them did not know each other. It was the gallery project that brought them together.

"It's a project, but it's ours," says Marcel Bühler, "and if it works, every individual's success is a success for all of us."

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