Issue #261  8/30/2023
An Interview with Martijn van Pieterson, New President of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD)

By Michael Diemar

Martijn van Pieterson, new President of AIPAD
Martijn van Pieterson, new President of AIPAD

Q. You were made president of AIPAD earlier in the year. You took over the presidency from Michael Lee. Stephen Bulger of Toronto, was the first non-US president of the organization, and you are its first non-North American president. Congratulations are in order! Was it a big decision to accept the post?

A. Thanks a lot! It is an honor and a pleasure to be the new president of AIPAD. I have been a board member for four years now and immensely enjoy working with that group of like-minded and engaged professionals for the good of the organization and its members. It was therefore not really a big decision for me to accept the post.

Q. You have your own gallery, IBASHO, based in Antwerp but you had a long and distinguished career before that. Can you tell me a little about that?

A. Before setting up IBASHO with my wife Annemarie, I worked in the financial industry for 18 years, in Amsterdam as well as London. I worked for a bank and was operating in the financial markets in trading, structuring and quantitative analysis, where I ran a global business and managed large teams of professionals.

Q. How do you hope to use that experience for the benefit of AIPAD?

A. In my previous career I dealt with many different stakeholders and was involved in managing projects, people and financial decisions. My experience could benefit AIPAD in the complex and ever-changing art world with a diverse set of stakeholders and challenges.

Q. When did you open IBASHO and what’s the focus of the gallery?

A. IBASHO means 'a place where you can be yourself' in Japanese. We opened the gallery in March 2015, showing fine art Japanese photography ranging from works by well-known Japanese photographers to younger contemporary Japanese artists, as well as works from Western photographers who were inspired by Japan. IBASHO hopes to show the versatility and beauty of Japanese photography in its many guises, from the raw and unpolished to the minimalist and still. As photo books are an important medium for presenting photography in Japan, IBASHO also deals in new and antiquarian Japanese photo books. IBASHO also publishes its own photo books together with Paris-based publisher the(M) éditions. Recently, IBASHO is also presenting Japanese ceramics.

Q. What challenges does AIPAD face at this time?

A. AIPAD needs to regrow its membership and to become more representative of the photography landscape as it stands now. From new galleries to contemporary galleries with strong fine art photography rosters, the landscape continues to evolve and AIPAD must with it. We are already working on this with the Associate Membership pilot program launched in January of this year, and will continue to do so with new initiatives.

Q. What improvements do you hope to make and how do you see AIPAD’s future?

A. We are continuously focused on creating opportunities for our members in terms of promoting photography as a whole as well as their individual programs. A strong physical fair is an important part of that and with the move back to the Park Avenue Armory, we will give our members the best possible platform. But also the development of our new website with viewing room capabilities and the continuous focus on education through online and in-person talks play significant roles. With an engaged and active board, I am pretty optimistic about our future, but it is certainly not without a challenge.

Q. The AIPAD board is more international now. Will that be reflected in the organisation’s activities? More international events for instance?

A. The relaunch of The Photography Show at the Park Avenue Armory has been our priority, but we are now looking to activate more internationally at global art events like Paris Photo, Photo Basel, Arles and more in the coming years. We also hope to recruit more international members for our organization.

Q. As I understand it, membership shrunk during the pandemic. To what extent? What are the figures? Do you have strategies to get old members back or attract new members to the organization?

A. The Membership certainly took a hit during the pandemic as this industry changed overnight. Our numbers are recovering well, with eight new members this year and the aforementioned new initiative to support emerging galleries.

Q. At the end of the previous decade, there were rumors that AIPAD’s The Photography Show was going to collaborate with Paris Photo. It was finally announced in 2019, that the collaboration, Paris Photo New York, was going to be held 2 - 5 April 2020. It was cancelled due to the pandemic. What’s the state of play now as far as collaboration is concerned?

A. Paris Photo remains a close collaborator of AIPAD, with many of their top exhibitors being members. Our conversations with Paris Photo continue in a positive vein, but AIPAD is moving confidently forward with the 2024 edition of The Photography Show with our return to the Armory.

Q. The 43rd edition of The Photography Show will be held April 25 - 28 next year, and it returns to the Park Avenue Armory, the fair’s location from 2006 to 2016, after which it was held at Pier 94 from 2017 - 2019, and then at Centre415 in 2022 and 2023. What will the return to the Park Avenue Armory mean for the fair?

A. We are able to showcase a larger part of our membership and be able to bring back former exhibitors from both the Armory and the Piers years. The grand scale of the venue will also allow more programming onsite, such as an expanded AIPAD Talks program, a 2nd edition of the Monumental Works exhibition curated at this year's fair and growing the breadth that the fair can display.

Q. The fair has a selection committee. Can you tell me a little about its work and what kind of mix of galleries the fair committee hopes to present next year?

A. The Fair has a Show Committee. This committee is entrusted with working with our Executive Director and Show team to help shape the fair, its rules and to be a selection committee for non-member galleries that apply. AIPAD Members are accepted on the basis of their membership through our rigorous application process, but non-member galleries must submit exhibition proposals for selection.

Michael Diemar is a London-based collector and consultant. He is also editor-in-chief of The Classic, a new free magazine about classic photography. He is a long-time writer about the photography scene, writing extensively for several Scandinavian photography publications, as well as for the E-Photo Newsletter and I Photo Central.