/ Arnis Balčus / Interview

10 minutes with gallery manager Nina Grundemark

For more than 7 years Nina Grundemark has been managing gallery Swedish Photography in Berlin, which has recently changed its name to the surnames of owners and has become Grundemark Nilsson Gallery.

The activities of the gallery so far have been focused merely on exhibiting and trade of Swedish photographers’ works. Among the artists of the gallery such well-known names as Lars Tunbjörk, Gerry Johansson and Christer Strömholm can be found. Nina Grundemark is also involved in organising Landskrona Photo Festival, which last year took place for the first time in the little town of Sweden, exhibiting works of Daido Moriyama, JH Engström and other well-known photographers. Thanks to cooperation with her gallery in Berlin, in May this year an exhibition of the conceptual Swedish artist Dawid will be offered to the audiences in Riga in the framework of Riga Photo Month 2014. Grundemark will also visit Riga, in order to participate in a Portfolio Review on 9 May, which currently is open for applications from photographers from all over the world.

How is it possible to run a gallery in Berlin that is exclusively devoted merely to Swedish photography?

Well, it is not odd at all. Berlin has lots of galleries specialised in different geographical areas. Gallery Pavlova, for example, they only exhibit photographers from Australia.

Germany likes Sweden in many ways, so for me it has been an advantage. To open a new gallery on such a big art scene as Berlin, you have to be either already well-known or to have a narrow selection, it helps you marketing your artists. Berlin has 500 galleries; you have to have a special selection to be noticed. I have changed the name of the gallery now when we are established, to meet the commercial demands. Foolish or not, I don’t know yet…

How would you describe the market in photography today and where do Swedish photographers stand in it?

The market is getting better and better, but you also see more and more galleries so the competition is hard. Some Swedish photographers are well-known and established outside Scandinavia, but it requires so much more marketing work to do. Swedish photographers are very good. I guess it has to do with studies abroad and hard work. To be able to see your own backyard, I think it is very important to travel. You have Inta Ruka who is, to me, very unique.

You have been involved in a new photo festival in Landskrona. Tell us a bit about its mission and what we can expect this year.

Landskrona Photo Festival is very interesting. I think it can be very good and a lot bigger the following years. It is important to conduct the trust we have and also to have time to develop it. I am on the board and I also manage the portfolio review. Every exhibition is selected; it is not open for everyone to exhibit. We have a curator for the festival, Thomas H Johnsson, and this year he is accompanied by JH Engström. The Photo Festival is part of a larger initiative in the community, it is a all-year-round project. New for this year is a focus country, which is Turkey.

What do you like and dislike about portfolio reviews?

Portfolio reviews are both exhausting and strengthening at the same time. As a reviewer you have to give full attention to everyone, even if you dislike what you see. But it is so fun, time flies and when the day is over I have hopefully helped as much as expected. Another good thing is to talk to colleagues who you seldom have the chance to meet.

What is your advice to photographers who wish to do their portfolio review?

Sometimes you meet photographers who present the “wrong” work and spoil a good chance. I suggest all to consider the selection of images and not just pick the “beautiful” ones. Everyone can make nice pictures. Bring different series, change the selection during the day. To be able to select different works to different reviewers you have to be aware of who you meet. For example, do not select a publisher if you don’t have a large project. Be smart. Learn to talk about your series, it is important for me who only meet you for 20 minutes.