Artexchange 7

The Istrian Art Fair - Artexchange, in spite of all, has experienced its seventh edition, and if it survives next year it could apply for for the nomination of the eigth world wonder. We started seven years ago supported by the Istrian County, The Town of Rovinj, Adris and Maistra who are still with us full of enthusiasm and good will to start something and make a big step towards the Croatian art market. However, the world economic recession of the time and, later on, the catastrophic Croatian reality did not let us realize even a minimal part of our goal.The basic sense of the Fair is selling, and nothing has been sold at the last three Fairs, and very little even before that. The Association of Galleries Owners Art has been established in order to reinforce the Fair and to internationalize it, but we have still not managed to pass the Croatian border ; the only visit outside Rovinj was last year when we were present at the Špancirfest in Varaždin and where it was visited by many, but nothing was bought by anyone. In the meantime, a new fiscal policy was introduced, bringing about an art tax rise, instead of lowering it; the business rules for the galleries operators have become the same as the ones applied to catering facilities or supermarkets. The media have done a great disservice to the gallery owners by presenting the art collections of the arrested politicians Ivo Sanader and Nenad Vidošević as a peak of their plunder, so that the art collections talked and written about in the sensationalist newspapers and media have become a much bigger crime than their bank accounts, numerous real estates, jewelry and movables.The art collector has become a synonym for a thief and who will now buy art in Croatia - our beautiful country? Besides, artists themselves will think twice who they are selling their works to, because most of the ones whose works are in the infamous collections, ended up in the police informative investigations, while the gallery owners have been under investigation since they dared to sell something to the plunderers in question. Is the gallery owner a law offender for selling an artist’s painting to a collector? Are they to blame why the above mentioned who plundered the state property wanted to embellish the walls of their homes, apartments and weekend cottages? Is the artist to blame because he finally managed to sell his product, so that his mother does not have to give him the money for the rent, father for food and cigarettes.The court and USKOK say it is fraud, tax evasion, as the state has not received its share. Might be, but why we still have not got a special law (lex specialis) that would regulate selling works of art, and not to have the ones valid for selling cars and smoked and cured meats. Do we, in Croatia, really want Fairs and market? Last year we entered European Union where laws for selling apartments, tourist packages and ice are different from the ones of selling objects d’ art. Even more, art buyers, be it corporation or physical person, get tax reductions for such acquisitions. Therefore, these countries, have respectable museums of contemporary art, as well as art market which are an evidence of civilized society and cultural prestige. We do not have these things and if it goes on like this we won’t have any. We ourselves put ourselves in a culturally isolated ghetto and stay solemnly and persistently on the solid grounds of provincialism. Our Ministry is forwarding us and recommending the European Union guidelines which say we should turn to cultural industry. I am not so sure what that really means, but I know that if we want to start an industry, we need some basic means, bank loans and some incentive. The Gallery Owners Associations Artexchange has demanded from the above mentioned Ministry some minimal finances in order to present the Croatian art at some European Art Fair. We received nothing, and if market is not some sort of cultural industry, then what is it really? Su much about the instructions and the guidelines and about their realization; it would be interesting to see how much loan and incentive would get some of the gallery operators exhibiting at the Artexchange. I really admire these people who in spite of everything have come here to show something. I say show, display, exhibit because - they all forgot selling time ago. Pleasant companionship, enthusiasm, sense of community and always the wish to do something are all nice and human but, still, for how long? We have got to live out of something.