As the second edition of Paris+ au Art Basel has drawn to a close, and the doors of Paris Photo 2023 opening, this month we are shining our spotlight on Paris. Recent gallery openings including Modern Art and Hauser & Wirth highlight a clear shift in focus to Paris. Alongside Paris+, Asia Now…
Martina Aschbacher has been working in the arts for Douglas Gordon’s studio for many years now. Read here what her day looks like and what the essence of her job entails.
So, Martina Aschbacher, where do you work?
I work in the studio of the artist Douglas Gordon and we are based in Berlin and Glasgow. I would also count my house as a place of work with a cute four-legged furry assistant as opposed to my lovely two-legged human colleagues in our studio. The studio is a fantastic creative place with about 10 people (sometimes more, sometimes less) all of them fantastic women and men and everything is very human-y.
What is your job title?
Actually there is no official job title for the work I am doing. I would call myself a Studio- and Art-Project Manager for Douglas Gordon. This basically sums up my job and role very well.
What time did you wake up? What are you usual working hours?
My morning routine is more or less the same and does not differ much day to day when I am in Berlin.
6:15 am: Wake up call from a very demanding cat who wants her food and to take her morning stroll in the garden
6:30 am: Yoga and exercise to wake up properly
7:00 am: Checking e-mails to get prepared for the day ahead of me
7:30 am: watering the plants in my garden, feeding the birds while enjoying a cup of green matcha tea
8:00 am: raiding the closet to find some adequate work attire
9:00 am: cycling to work (with a helmet – safety first!)
9:00 am – open end: working in the studio
Obviously this schedule changes drastically when I supervise exhibition installations in museums and galleries all over the world. Jet lag, night shifts, trying to squeeze in exercise in an ‘always too small’ hotel room in addition to some healthy eating, (not specifically mentioning the exact amount of French fries I consume when things get beyond madness). But it is still extremely satisfying when the show opens and one can see the beautiful result of the hard labour that one put in to making it happen.
What are your key tasks?
Bringing the vision of the artist I work for to life.
What was your career path to this role?
My background is in psychology and advertising.
My entrance into the art world can be described as rather unorthodox and happened at a later stage in my life when I had already pursued a fairly long career in advertising and marketing.
Starting as an intern at a museum in Vienna, followed by running a gallery for an American artist who realised her dream of having an art space in the very heart of Vienna. I moved to Saint Barthélemy in the French West Indies a few years later to run an Artist Residency Program for a couple of years. On this teeny-tiny charming island I met the artist Douglas Gordon who offered me my current job, which gave me the opportunity to plunge deeper into the industry that I like and find exciting.
What are the best and worst things about your job?
Art opened up my world. Through my job I have the opportunity to see fantastic and mind-blowingly beautiful exhibitions. Wherever I go on this planet, I get a glimpse behind the scenes and get to meet and work with incredibly interesting, amazing, funny and intelligent people along the way. People who have inspired and influenced me on so many levels.
The downside of my job is that there are too many people in the art world who take themselves way too seriously and the art market has completely gone out of proportion in recent years as well. It sometimes does not make to seem sense anymore, at least not to me. Art, in my opinion, should be fun, interesting, educating, inspiring and most importantly it should be accessible to everyone who is interested in it.
But as in any other industry you work in I think it is important to have the yin and yang. It is absolutely fantastic to be completely submerged in art and the art world, but it is also extremely important to find your own personal Zen space and replenish.
What careers advice would you give to your 18 year old self with the benefit of hindsight?
I am a firm believer in hard work. No matter who you are or which background you come from hard work and dedication matter.
Have you had a secret job that is not on your CV?
Hmh, does petting animals to sleep count as a real job?
Thank you to Martina for taking the time to talk to us and look out for future insights into the art world.
Notes from DRAW · 04.07.2019