Art Basel Miami: Day Two
Realizing today how tech has (and has not) shifted the landscape of fairs. When I was prepping my old boss for his trips to these events years ago, it was a frantic and paranoid process because he could only show clients works that he had actual hard copy images of.
That meant every trip entailed an impossible, often random effort to guess which inventory would help him the most to be able to showcase. You could only bring so much before it became unwieldy, and there was no way to anticipate which artists and artworks you could serendipitously spark a potential client to during a chance encounter at a cafe.
Of course you could get their information and try to resurrect the conversation at a later date and time, but your odds of success plummeted once the moment disappeared. Opportunities were finite, unpredictable, and inherently stressful.
Today, every assistant at every booth has a tablet, and thus the ability to summon any image or info they need in an instant. The anxiety of guesswork is gone (or at least minimized). Any gallerist can immediately show any client a substitute work if she’s interested in a piece that’s already sold, or call up a review of their most recent exhibition in ArtForum, or access any amount of other data or information that could help cultivate a relationship in even the most fractional way. Simple as it sounds, tech has empowered gallerists in this environment more than at any time before - and I would argue, exponentially more so than it has empowered collectors.
I’ll talk about the other side of that imbalance more later. For now, back into the swarm.