Behind the ‘Collection Dubai’
Interview with curator November Paynter

Issue no6
Strategieën voor de lange termijn + Nieuwe Collectie

Until October 25th SMART Project Space in Amsterdam plays host to an exhibition called Collection Dubai. The press release talks about the double meaning of the title – referring on the one hand to the obsessive practice of collecting or sourcing by many contemporary artists and on the other to the impossibility of 'collecting' a consistent national identity.

In the exhibition itself Dubai serves as a point of reference, a starting point, but by no means does the city feature centrally. In fact, only the work of Lamya Gargash is a direct representation of it. The exhibition as a whole concerns itself mainly with different modes of collecting by the artists themselves, either visually, theoretically or as a result of their practice.

That said, most of the artists in Collection Dubai are part of the ATP (Artist Pension Fund), section Dubai, with which curator November Paynter is involved. APT is an alternative collecting scheme providing long term insurance and revenue to the participating artists, as well as creating temporary collections of artworks both regionally centered and representing the artists’ personal development over a twenty year period. The temporariness of the collection is a result of ATP’s intention to sell the works in the collection eventually, partly to the benefit of the contributing artists themselves.

—Maxine KopsaCan you tell us a bit more about the Artist Pension Trust and your involvement?

—November PaynterI am the Director of the trust named Dubai, which follows the formation of the other regionally orientated trusts that include London, New York, Berlin and Mexico City. Dubai is a tag for the region we are focusing on that is supposedly neutral and rather telling of financial expectations within the region. In fact we are inviting artists from the countries and areas surrounding Turkey: including the South East Mediterranean, North Africa, the Caucasus and the Balkans. There are 75 artists participating in the trust so far and gradually they will each invest 20 works into a collection over a period of 20 years. These works are stored and insured by the trust and later sold to create a financial return for the artist. A percentage of each sale goes into a pool that is divided between all the artists, so that a situation of risk diversification and mutual interest is formed. What is specifically interesting for this trust is that we are creating a major collection in a region where few exist and it is important that this resource is opened up to researchers and made as accessible as possible.

—Maxine KopsaCan you tell us a little more about your perception of Dubai, perhaps in terms of culture specifically? You've visited Dubai - how was your experience there?

—November PaynterThe city is trying to emulate many places, periods and cultures in order to appeal to everyone, but rather than mix these up they are contained in different zones. Each possesses it’s own individuality, often in stark contrast to what is just down the road. And then there are other obsessive motions, such as the many islands that are being created, the first project in the shape of a palm tree and more recently ‘The World’, which is perhaps the most incredible attempt at an impossible collection: every country in miniature as an actual land mass in the sea. The Art Fair being the main event of the Emirates art scene, the growth of culture is financially driven; and Abu Dhabi has already taken the lead in terms of creating a broader art situation.

—Maxine KopsaYou yourself have been living in Istanbul for some years now (how long?). How do you see or qualify yourself in terms of cultural identity?

—November PaynterI have been in Istanbul almost 8 years with a short break of 6 months back in London in 2007. It is my home and has been since the year I arrived, but it always feels like I have just arrived and I can't imagine and don't want that feeling to change as it allows the experience of being here to continuously renew itself and at the same time my relationship with the city and culture adapts, develops and is never predictable.

—Maxine KopsaDo you plan to stay in Turkey?

—November PaynterI have no plans to leave as yet and having seen Istanbul develop over the last years and the cultural situation expand rapidly. I would be very sad to miss the rapidly approaching moment when things really fall into place and a great institution is born.

—Maxine KopsaWhat were some of the reasons for conceptualizing 'Collection Dubai' in Amsterdam, and for SMART?

—November PaynterThe curatorial committee for Artist Pension Trust (APT) Dubai and myself are planning to create opportunities to show works from the collection and discuss the aims, issues and potential of such a structure. We were looking to start a series of projects in this vein in early 2010, which will likely be modest and more conceptual in their realization. The show at Smart is a more concrete presentation, a forerunner perhaps to this series. To question the need for such a structure at this turning point in the financial crisis and at a space in the Netherlands, which is well known for its strong support of artists through various funds, but less through collecting, seems relevant.

Share this Article:
|Back to Top
Related | Most read
Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 6 — 2020