Founder and Curator Emmelie Koster
Founder and Curator Emmelie Koster photo by Keke Keukelaar

No Man’s Art Gallery was founded by Dutch ex-lawyer, Emmelie Koster in 2010. In a very unusual career move, Koster suddenly decided to take up painting whilst in the second year of her masters degree in law. Unhappy with her paintings, she sold them online under a different name (Bob Koster) and set up an a fake art gallery to promote them. Soon afterwards, real artists began sending Emmelie their portfolios looking for representation. By the time she finished her studies and started her job as a lawyer, she realised that the gallery had become a project with serious potential and quit her legal career to focus on realising that potential.

Max & Charlotte, Ou est Charlie, Piscine Pontoise, Paris V, 2009
© Max & Charlotte, Ou est Charlie, Piscine Pontoise, Paris V, 2009

The name ‘No Man’s Art Gallery’ refers to No Man’s Land, the land that has no laws and no set boundaries. No Man’s Art Gallery now provides an international platform for young artists by organising pop up galleries all over the world. Every three months they take on a different city to find local young artists with great talent. They exhibit the new-found artists’ work in their local city and travel with No Man’s Gallery to the next city. The exhibitions always show a wide variety of young artists, coming from all over the world. Previous exhibitions have been in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Mumbai, Paris, Copenhagen, and most recently in Shanghai.

Works by Sarah Wijzenbeek at the Mumbai Exhibition
Works by Sarah Wijzenbeek at the Mumbai Exhibition

The gallery has its headquarters in Amsterdam as well as a recently opened office in Copenhagen. They aim to promote artistic collaborations between the Netherlands and Denmark in addition to organising their pop-up galleries worldwide. No Man’s Art Gallery is the first art gallery to organise pop up galleries in a different country every few months. The exhibitions are open for a week before they are gone again and are always an adventure to visit. The location is secret, and only disclosed to those who sign up beforehand. So far, they’ve exhibited in special locations worldwide; the ruins of a cotton mill compound in Mumbai, a chapel on Vestre Kirkegaard in Copenhagen, a harbor building in Hamburg, an atomic shelter in Amsterdam.

Daniel van der Noon Mertropolis, 2012
© Daniel van der Noon, Mertropolis, 2012

In the three months preparation for a pop up gallery, they face the challenge of finding a location and setting up a complete network of artists, art lovers and buyers, members of the press, sponsors and local partners. They select their artists in a new city by contacting all art schools and visiting young ateliers to find the talents that the city has to offer. Everyone in No Man’s Art Gallery gets a say in the selection, and the final decisions are made by Emmelie Koster and Emma Sofie Jensen.

Participant of the No Man's Art Slum Photography Contest, Black Sludge, 2011
© Participant of the No Man’s Art Slum Photography Contest, Black Sludge, 2011

They also hope to be able to organise the No Man’s Art Slum Photography Contest annually. In 2011, private sponsorship for analogue cameras and film rolls was organised for 45 children from Dharavi, Mumbai, the biggest slum in Asia. The children were taught how to use the cameras in a short workshop and sent off to capture the moments in life that they enjoy the most. The results were absolutely amazing. All the children received the prints of their photos and a selection of the photos are now exhibited and for sale at No Man’s pop up galleries. The proceeds go directly back into buying new film and development of the film.

Mumbai Exhibition
Mumbai Exhibition

Lyrical Artist Justus Raapgaarde reads his poetry at the Hamburg Exhibition
Lyrical Artist Justus Raapgaarde reads his poetry at the Hamburg Exhibition

No Man’s Art Gallery’s latest pop-up gallery exhibition was in Shanghai. The exhibition featured local Chinese artists alongside the artists that were discovered at previous pop-up galleries in Copenhagen, Paris, Mumbai, Hamburg and Amsterdam. Additionally, three Chinese artists will be chosen to travel with No Man’s to their upcoming future exhibitions. Find out more here.

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