Organising an exhibition|
Photos by Sarah Bush and Christiane Wolf
Organising an event or an exhibition isn't always as difficult as it might first seem, according to Kevin Seven, who has spent the last year curating art exhibitions at no-id, a gallery and performance space in Shoreditch.
TLU: What did you do before you started working with no-id?
Kevin: I was involved in organising art and music events, mainly at the 491 gallery in Leytonstone. A friend of mine lived at the gallery so I spent a lot of time there. After watching them put on regular events I decided to get involved and organise an event myself.
TLU: I remember it. Your One_Artsisland event last year. That was quite an undertaking, you took over the whole space for three days didn't you?
Kevin: Yeah, I am one of the only guys who took the whole space for a party. I don't know how, I just did it. That was the first event I organised, ever.
TLU: How long did it take you to prepare for the event?
Kevin: It took me two months to organise it. It was good though because the 491 Gallery already had an audience, and I'd been here in London for six or seven years, getting around, so I knew a lot of people. Basically I invited artists from Europe and art students. It's the people who brought their work who made the party. I just had a mobile phone, I just contacted everyone.
TLU: How did that evolve into trying to get your own gallery space?
Kevin: It was my intention to move the events to a different squat every time, leaving a trail of connections behind. Unfortunately I chose the wrong venue for my second event, and it closed down unexpectedly. I had to change venues in a hurry ended up in a warehouse that was far too big. It knocked me out. I couldn't deal with the place. I had to build a lot of lamps, find fabrics, cables, I barely had the energy to walk anywhere. It killed me. It was a two week event and I couldn't manage the second week. I went back to the 491 for the second week. It was better, more intimate.
In April, I recieved a mail from Jan, who founded no-id. I knew him from parties, where he sold his t-shirts. He told me he'd found a place and would like to set up a gallery. I came in, saw the place and was thrilled. It was exactly what I'd been looking for, somewhere to set up something regular, with direct access to a mainstream cultural audience. I wanted to give outsider artists access to this audience in an area where where it's normally hard to exhibit - I wanted to let these people do their own thing. The artists want cool events, nice exhibitions, they want to have a good time with their friends. They don't care about selling, they just want to share, basically.
I spoke to Jan. There were two rooms he wasn't using, so I put on a program. With my One_Artisland connections, it was easy to fill the first two months in advance and from then on we booked people who came along for the exhibitions and wanted to do their own. Then the dynamic just came into play. We needed a few contacts to start the place and with proper organisation it ran itself.
TLU: Yeah, projects do run themselves if they're put together right.
Kevin: I believe that to encourage this self-organisation we need more tools to connect people. Spaces where something happens as soon as you enter. Something that forces you to make contact with people in a nice way - something to provoke this contact. It won't leave you in the corner - something has to happen. And you have to leave a contribition. You give something, when everyone gives something back, the organiser doesn't have to do anything. Everyone has a nice time together, everyone takes responsibility. You don't do anything.
TLU: Kind of like the 'wu wei' of partying?
I suppose yeah. Partying is very social, naturally, it just comes together. But it's not always like that. It's amazing how we can distance ourself from each other. You want to party, but you can't speak to anyone.
At this point Christiane Wolf, an artist and fashion designer, enters and offers us cheesecake.
Christiane: I put on the first exhibition ever here. Jan opened the space and I jumped on it, said "Jan i want to do the exhibition right now!". Kevin came along and put on his first exhibition here a week later. I got in there quickly. My piece combined fashion and painting. Since then I have exhibited here many times. I don't live here though. There are so many people who exhibit here. You have painting, installations, videos, bands, you come in and every time there is a surprise. Normally galleries have a single speciality. This one is very open, it's here for everybody to be creative, this is very different.
Kevin: Yes, it's different here, but we still have problems discussing things and relating to people much of the time, because our world, as it is now, is dividing us. There are too many walls, too many different dreams. But I would say that this place is proof that people are trying to share, proof that life's not all dark. People need places like this, and if we put our energy into it, we can find the solutions that can help different people live together and enjoy life's great adventure together.
Raoul walks in with champagne, offers me a glass, seemingly unconcerned about the fact that he has no idea who I am or where I came from, then proceeds to serve the cheesecake. Kevin tells me Raoul is an amazing artist. He painted the entrance to the building next door, and teaches art to children. He's one of the only ones at no-id who really works on his art at all, according to Kevin. The rest of them just party and ring people on their phones.
As we eat our cheesecake and sip our champagne, Kevin continues to speak passionately about the kind of society he believes will enable people to live together in peace, joy and harmony. It's exciting stuff but I have cheesecake on my fingers and my keyboard is getting greasy so I end it here.