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6 : A Multiplying Effect

Imagine this scenario: 6 artists gathered in a studio, each with his own distinctly individual voice, practice and unique aesthetic viewpoint. They sit around talking, debating ideas, smoking and joking from time to time. Today's meeting, like many others that have taken place before, centres on a common goal; primarily to stretch the spatial and critical parameters not just of their own art production, but that of an international community of producers based in, or passing through the city of Berlin.

Galerie Invaliden1 is the collaborative product of these 6 Berlin-based artists' creative energies: Sergio Belinchón, Rui Calçada Bastos, Paul Ekaitz, Antonio Mesones, Noé Sendas and Santiago Ydáñez.

In the early days of the gallery's founding in 2005, the artists had been quick to identify and respond to a lacuna in the local artistic and socio-economic infrastructure of Berlin. Owing to the availability of affordable studio and living space, alongside a vibrant and growing population of creatives, Berlin was then already being purported as a thriving new "mecca" for international art production.

The city was nonetheless already beginning to exhibit the same symptoms that have long persisted in other global art cities such as New York, London or Paris. Gaps appear between the realization of new or experimental ideas, the achievement of a degree of external validation and visibility in the art world, and the attainment of financial as well as commercial sustainability.

Establishing an artist-run gallery was thus a natural reflex for the 6 who sought to actively address such gaps or systemic failures. Galleries outside of Berlin are already representing all the artists, but Invaliden1 provides a means by which to assert their presence locally. Beyond serving a basic need for self-representation, however, the artists' have also jointly created a viable, community-oriented alternative model to ‘non-profit', ‘commercial' and ‘institutional' modes of organisation. In place of rigid and impersonal bureaucracies, this model retains a flexible framework and largely relational modus operandi by which artists and curators are personally invited by the artists to exhibit. There is freedom for mutual exchange, experimental collaboration and reflexive dialogue amongst practitioners, for practitioners. The self-contained model is hard-pressed neither by hierarchical organisational structures nor state-funding agendas. It remains considerably immune to market fluctuations. A show will go on as long as an artist wills it to.

Since its inception, the gallery's programmatic growth has attested to the surprising effectiveness of their approach. The 6 artists and their gallery have hosted numerous installations by other artists of international repute and stature. The exhibition space has gained pace and influence as one of Berlin's potentially most watchable and talked-about artist-run projects. Bearing additional testament to its success is Invaliden1's survival along the increasing gentrified Brunnenstrasse district, where most galleries seem to appear and disappear barely before making a mark.

The space continues to evolve in dynamism as an increasing number of art producers and audiences alike feed into the creation and engagement of its content. The effect that the Invaliden1 artists have produced resounds much more than the existence and sustenance of a gallery space. Their joint effort has proved to be a cooperative gesture, a demonstrable artistic intervention that has made a real impact on the landscape in which they live and work, multiplying its creative possibilities and imaginative elasticity way beyond an initiative started by just 6 artists. This site provides a timely profile that celebrates and documents their work as their individual practices continue to deepen alongside the widening consciousness of Invaliden1.

Text: Eliza Tan