Although this period of history is very difficult for many involved in the art world, the situation is proving to be a very interesting catalyst for change in the architecture of the current art world system. An example of a new organization launching next month is MINISTRY OF NOMADS.
An online art gallery is nothing new. We have even seen the auction house appropriated into mainstream cyber space with Artnet’s recent endeavour. What is captivating about ministryofnomads.com is primarily the focus on a sustainable system. This perhaps reflects Google’s model of profitable philanthropy, but it is certainly a new idea for an art world that has been dictated by a somewhat imperialist greed when it has come to emerging markets, most notably China. MON reinvests a large portion of its profits into a foundation that is directly connected to the online gallery.
Ministry of Nomads also does a great job of creating community in that it devotes a third of its real estate to an organic forum that incorporates discussions with the artists. The site works with: critics, curators and collectors alike. Thus, the individuals that have for so long been captive in the gilded ghettoes of an elitist art world become exponentially more accessible.
Of course, the art is of the utmost importance. At the time of launch, Ministry of Nomads will deal with top Iranian and Cuban artists. It will begin by helping the Cuban artists survive through the aftermath of the hurricanes coupled with the economic crisis, as well with education regarding entry into the global art world system. In Iran, similar education will be given to aspiring artists as well as a concentrated support for young conceptual artists that are not necessarily supported by the market. MON will also focus on creating a provocative dialogue between Iran and Cuba through residencies etc. Ministryofnomads.com does not ghettoize its roster by focusing on one region. It is rather concept driven and is interested in creating a cross-cultural dialogue between significant creative and conceptual trajectories that might not yet exist. This is absolute in the dialogue between Cuba and Iran that MON has already begun.
The artists represented on the site are extremely impressive and most definitely were selected with a very critical eye. To be short, the work is very strong and the majority of the artists already have resumes that refer to top institutions around the world.
Cuban artists include Ernesto Leal, Raul Cordero, Michel Perez, Alejandro Gonzalez and Mabel Polet.
Iranian artists include Bita Fayazi, Khosorow Hassanzadeh, Shadi Ghadrian, Ramin Haerizadeh and Shirin Fakhim.
MON has already proved that Internet art sites can now introduce to the world new, relevant and exciting artists to the scene. It is reported the Ministryofnomads.com actually introduced Shirin Fakhim to Charles Saatchi and thus Thadeus Ropac in Paris. Fakhim had never been seen on the art scene before. She is now in “Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East” at the Saatchi Gallery in London and in Thadeus Ropac's current show in the Marais.
Perhaps, the “credit crunch” is not all that bad in the long run for the structure of the art world. Hopefully, more sustainable businesses will arrive on the scene reflecting the positions and philosophies of social responsibility that most preach. For the moment MINISTRYOFNOMADS.COM is setting a very good example for positive steps forward.
At going to cyberspace, I was notified that Ministry of Nomads will appropriate the Scream Gallery in March on Bourdon Street in Mayfair, London. It will steal the space in its nomadic style and launch with a solo show of Iranian superstar Khosorow Hassanzadeh’s extremely confrontational Prostitute Series. This exhibition will coincide with Hassansadeh's exhibition at the British Museum.