Interview with Daria Irincheeva, Gallery Director, Family Business, New York, NY
by Vanessa Saraceno
Smack in the middle of the New York’s most lucrative art district, Family Business is not a gallery, not a mere project-space, but something radically different from what we are used to seeing in Chelsea. Founded by New Museum Director Massimiliano Gioni and artist Maurizio Cattelan, Family Business has been referred to as the big brother of Wrong Gallery, the first New York art space the pair initiated, together with Ali Subotnick. From “the hole in the wall” -as Jerry Saltz wrote about Wrong Gallery- to the 9-by-14 foot space at Anna Kustera Gallery, this Family not-for-profit Business seems more than a simply joke against the Art system.
Located at 21st Street and 10th Avenue, Family Business invites artists, bands, curators, stylists and whoever wants to be part of the “contemporary show” to send an exhibition proposal. The attendees, very young and not fancy at all, are forced to see the shows from the street, because the space so small. These people expect to see something revolutionary in an Art Space. Family Business allows them to see that their own attempts and efforts are actually revolutionary. What Familly Business seems to show is the street itself, with its colorful variety and its unstoppable movement of change and experimentation. To learn more about Family Business and how it runs, I met and interviewed the Gallery Director, Daria Irincheeva.
Vanessa Saraceno: Tell me about Family Business. When did it start, how many are the people involved and what is their role in the project?
Daria Irincheeva: We started in February. I met Massimiliano when I was working at VAC Foundation, and last summer during Venice Biennale, I met Maurizio. I wrote them because I wasn't very satisfied just studying at school and they appointed me as Director. Now we have 10 interns, all young people that have just starting their career. I think Family Business is a very good starting point. It is serious because you are in Chelsea, but at the same time it is a game.
Saraceno: If you were to tell somebody about Family Business, how would you explain what it is?
Irincheeva: Family Business is a guest-house. It's a very friendly environment open to all experimentations and to all the people who want to try their ideas out. It is very international and open but at the same time with its own style. It is not conservative at all and a little bit anarchistic. The gallery is very young and we are always inviting different people. Nevertheless, most of the people around Family Business have a strong personality. They are all free from opinions of others and over here they just feel free to express themselves. It is very important to have people who like us—not because we want people to like us, but so people can feel free at Family Business.
Saraceno: How does Family Business run?
Irincheeva: As a non-profit art space, we do not sell artworks but, if someone is interested in buying something he can contact directly the artists or the curator. This way all the profits go to the artists, so the gallery runs with zero budget. Massimiliano and Maurizio rented the place for one year, inviting people to submit exhibitions proposals but without providing any budget.
Saraceno: Do you accept only funded proposals?
Irincheeva: For now, we don't have any kind of Grant system, but we are currently working on this.
Usually people sent me the proposal and I forward what I like more to Maurizio and Massimiliano so they can choose what we are going to show next. The proposals have to be funded but… we don't have any strict rule. For example, the proposal for our next exhibition Megabodega, which will open on June 26th, did not have any funding but the idea was great and so we accepted it all the same. After that, the curator Victoria Yee Howe started collecting funds because the project had already been accepted at Family Business.
Saraceno: You also give space to young bands and Djs.
Irincheeva: Mostly artists invite their friends but sometimes we choose to give space to band who wrote us proposing a concert. I also think it's funny to have anarchistic concerts, like the ones we had in February, in front of such big names of the art world, like Gagosian. People drink on the street and even if they think they are in a gallery opening, the street is actually their stage. I love that. No matter if it's rainy or snowy, no matter how cold is outside, music always gives people so much energy that they keep coming and standing out there.
Saraceno: Why doesn’t Family Business have a website?
Irincheeva: Our real website is familybusiness.us. It’s currently under construction, and maybe we’ll create a blog more than a website. I know there's another website out there but I don’t know who created that. Whoever is behind that site is just stealing all the information from our facebook page and putting it there. Everybody thinks it is our website and, according to me, it is quite funny because our official site doesn’t work.
Saraceno: I know you are an artist, but at Family Business you had your first curatorial experience.
Irincheeva: The exhibition was very experimental, all about this young energy coming out from Russia and about this fast changing social and politic environment in Russia. I wanted to bring together this feeling of Revolution, but also this dark mentality that is typical of Russian people. But being the space so small, you cannot just hang artworks at the wall. So I decided to make this total installation of renovation at the gallery and to put the artworks into this renovation process. This way I could underline the exhibition was not the end, that it was a process still growing and renovating itself. It was as funny as difficult to me as an artist because when you are an artist you just speak for yourself, but when you curate you have to bring all different ideas together.
My next exhibition will start in November, not at Family Business but at Reverse Space in Williamsburg. They invited me to have a personal exhibition there so I'll curate myself this time.
Vanessa Saraceno is a freelance journalist based in London. She holds a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Art History and Heritage Management from IULM University of Milan. Over the past three years, she has worked with several art institutions and galleries in various communications roles. She also writes and runs an art blog: http://www.arthuntermag.comview all articles from this author