The white-cube art space might not seem the most likely home for a record shop, but dealer David Risley is hoping that the two will be a good match at his eponymous Copenhagen gallery. The exhibition "This is our Art This is our Music," featuring art by musicians and music by artists, opens today, and along with it the Gutter, a record-shop-within-the-gallery. (The Gutter will remain a part of the gallery even after the show closes on Apr. 5.)
Over 10 years as a gallery owner, Risley has developed an unusual way of staying engaged with his work: purposely leaving gaps in his exhibition schedule, thereby forcing himself to come up with show concepts on the fly. The idea for a cross-disciplinary show focusing on artists and musicians came to Risley about a month ago, in the middle of the night. He immediately knew that a record store should accompany the exhibition.
Risley had been intrigued by the crossover between artists and musicians since high school, when he was given an album by the Scottish alternative rock band the Soup Dragons. Some time later, he discovered that the group's drummer, Ross Sinclair, was also an artist. Artwork by Sinclair appears in "This is our Art This is our Music," and his music is on sale at the Gutter. The exhibition and store collectively include work by over 40 people, including Yoko Ono, Mike Kelley, John Cage, Raymond Pettibon, Sonic Youth, Lizzi Bougatsos and David Byrne.
According to Risley's research, there is only one other gallery-based store in the world that specializes in music by artists, and as chance would have it, it's closing this week. Ursula Block, wife of Berlin-based dealer René Block, opened Gelbe Musik in Galerie Block in 1981. Risley recently visited the Berlin shop in preparation for opening his own.
"Gelbe Musik was amazing, but it felt like a place where you'd talk intellectually about punk but not put it on," Risley told A.i.A. in a phone conversation. "It was a white cube with records and a John Cage print on the wall." He envisions the Gutter, by comparison, as a noisy space full of people and loud music. The shop will have a separate entrance from the gallery, and will have a completely different aesthetic, covered in posters, t-shirts and assorted music ephemera. A set of sliding doors on the Gutter's back wall will open into the rest of the gallery, allowing the two spaces to become one during openings and events.
Risley is confident that his operation will stand apart from the city's existing record shops, of which there are many. "We really have a niche. Ninety-nine percent of people are downloading mp3s. Of that one percent physically buying music, a small portion of them want vinyl records and maybe one percent of that group is interested in this type of music by artists."
The record store's sales will operate similarly to the gallery's, with music purchased on consignment, either directly from the artists or from museums or galleries (some, like White Columns and Gavin Brown, have their own record labels). Risley describes the hand-signed and numbered records in stock at the Gutter as "artworks in their own right," and expects prices to range from $15 to 20, with some costing upwards of $1,000 each. He has also started the Gutter Press, which is currently offering limited-edition bags designed by Jeremy Deller.
Tonight's opening will include live music from Swedish black metal band Kill, featuring collage artist Are Mokkelbost. Additional performances will be scheduled throughout the show's run, with one larger event to be held at an offsite venue.
The Gutter, which also functions as a café, will be open from 8:00 AM daily, with the gallery proper opening at midday. "It'll be a strange meeting of worlds hopefully," says Risley.