From temporary clusters to temporary markets. The process of valuation at art fairs in Basel.

The knowledge perspective describes trade fairs as „temporary clusters“, where interactions take place and relations form. We argue that knowledge processes are also fundamental to construct markets. Functioning markets require that seller and buyer have comparable information on an object. Fairs provide possibilities for comparison that contribute to reducing information asymmetries between buyers and sellers. Our study bases on 46 interviews taken during three fairs on contemporary art in Basel. The three art fairs differ in their means to limit access to fair space, the objects they exhibit and the environment they provide to reduce information asymmetries. We find that the more possibilities a fair provides to reduce information asymmetries, the better the calculations of sellers and buyers align and the higher the chance that supply¬† meets demand. By reducing information asymmetries and aligning calculations, fairs contribute to construct global markets.