Interview with Zuzanna Hadryś and Michał Lasota, founders of the gallery Stereo in Warsaw
Stereo moved from Poznań to Warsaw two years ago, driven by the need to represent their artists in the centre of the Polish art world. In this interview Zuzanna Hadryś and Michał Lasota give an insight in the role of a gallery in the artists’ development, talk about the loss of government support for young galleries and their plans for the future.
Most of your artists were born in the eighties or late seventies. Can you tell us more about this?
We are a kind of generational gallery working with artists who are about the same age as us. These are people we know quite well personally. We meet frequently, we spend evenings together and we hold talks in which the discussion of art is substantial but not the sole topic. We keep close to each other. It has its advantages and disadvantages – potentially professional misunderstandings resonate immediately on private ground, but we simply can’t imagine working with people we do not like and do not share something more than business. Often, for example, we read a book which then circulates from hand to hand from one artist to another.
We work with artists born in the eighties or late seventies but there is one exception – Roman Stańczak, who was born in 1969 and belongs to a earlier generation. We don’t care much about the biography, we are interested in a special kind of art, vision and approach, regardless of data from the birth register.
What is the program of your gallery? What kind of art do you represent?
We are representing artists who take up concerns of perception, memory and language, who are interested in issues of everyday life, who explore material reality. Most of them are working in the area of installation and sculpture.
How do you decide to add a new artist?
When did you open your gallery and what motivated you?
We opened Stereo in 2009 in Poznań. While working earlier with a group of artists as curators, we realized that the format of private gallery is closer to our interests than smuggling our ideas in under the auspices of municipal institution. So we established our own institution where literally everything depends on our decisions.
What brought you into contemporary art in the first place? What is your background?
We were both in Cultural Studies programs together. Then we both got jobs in the city gallery. Friendships with artists – this is what brought us in to the area of contemporary arts.
How does digitalization affect your work as a gallerist?
The main thing probably is that digitalization makes our work continuous – 24/7. Right now we are trying to be offline a bit more often.
What does it mean to run a contemporary art gallery in Warsaw? What are the limits and what are the possibilities?
We moved to Warsaw two years ago from Poznań. This decision was based on a conviction that our artists need to be represented in the centre of the Polish art world. Poznań is a medium size city, a bit boring but good to live in, and this is what makes it a perfect location to work. We also took advantage of this “exotic” location, being exceptional in the eyes of foreigners who barely recognize other Polish cities besides Warsaw. But we were not connected enough to the context of other galleries which were all based in the capitol city. Also the main institutions are there.
And in Warsaw we have many collective initiatives like Warsaw Gallery Weekend or and Not Fair which are the results of cooperation between galleries. The scene here stays fresh, develops and has a potential which hopefully will not be damaged by the narrow-minded, nationalistic government.
What about institutional support? How do you get their attention as a young gallery?
Not long ago we all had to say goodbye to government support which a few years ago helped us a lot with developing our position internationally. It has a bright side – we do not depend anymore of how conditions of ministerial programmes are formatted. A clear-cut situation. But institutions still depend on the state money. This is complicated, as you can imagine.
So far, all art institutions in Warsaw are run by great people whoare following our activities, visiting shows, and bringing their guests to introduce us.
How would you describe the role of a gallery in the art world today?
This is what we are constantly asking ourselves about – what is our main task. There is so much we need to take care of, that it’s easy to forget our roots. And this – supporting the artists’ development – is fundamental.
What are your plans for the future?
We will try to calm down and keep the balance between doing shows at the gallery, art fairs abroad and perfecting this semi-professional attitude which saves us from becoming self-satisfied and smug.
Which artists are you showing at Paris Internationale?
We will bring to Paris works by two young Polish artists: Gizela Mickiewicz and Piotr Łakomy. They both work with contemporary materiality, in different ways crossing borders between sculpture and painting. Their work embodies largely what we would call the current profile of our gallery.
Stereo takes part in Liste–Art Fair Basel from June 13th to 18th, 2017. The gallery will present a selection of works by Gizela Mickiewicz.
Stereo has participated in the 2nd edition of Paris Internationale in Paris from October 19th to 23rd 2016.
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