ELLE Décor Italia

Elisabetta Donati de Conti, Interview, 28 Oct 2021

[Italian to English]:

HOW DOES A GALLERY WORK... WITHOUT A GALLERY?

Béatrice Masi, founder of the Spaceless Gallery, the gallery that comes directly to its collectors occupying differentlocations each time, answers this question.


It is a decentralized exhibition program that has been set up by the Spaceless Gallery, a "Parisian" gallery that decides not to bind itself to its own exhibition space waiting for collectors to come through the door. Instead, it invests different locations, going directly to meet collectors, influenced and inspired by the places where it settles itself. The creator of this project is Béatrice Masi, who in 2019 began holding exhibitions in unique locations in France and abroad, bringing together collectors, collaborators, and artists, each with their own universe, with whom she shares the ambition to offer increasingly engaging exhibitions. A project that reflects today's globalized, itinerant and flexible art market, increasingly in search of the all-round artistic (and exclusive) experience - told in an interview with its eclectic founder:

 

How did this adventure begin?

I studied art history at Christie's and at Glasgow University. When I finished my studies, to get a global view of the art world, I experimented with a bit of everything working in galleries, auction houses, and as a co-curator of exhibition projects. One day, while chatting with a family friend who was already represented by several galleries, it became apparent that there were new, less explored opportunities in the marketplace. Like him, many emerging artists were on the margins of the art market. When I proposed my project, many of them responded positively to my idea, and this gave me the strength to start in this direction.

Why did you decide to call your project The Spaceless Gallery? Do you feel more like an agent or more like a gallery owner?

I'm halfway between the two. I am not an agent because I am not just an intermediary: I defend my artists, I help them with promotion, sales, the curatorial aspect and I put together exhibitions; I also help them become institutionalized. These are more the tasks of a gallery, but I feel I represent a type of "new generation" gallery: for me this is how a gallery should be in 2021, building a dialogue around the careers of the artists it represents.

What projects does the Spaceless Gallery have at the moment?

At the moment I have several exhibitions in Paris: at the Boon Room with the ceramist Ruan Hoffmann; at Gilles & Boissier with the sculptures of the French-American artist Gabriel Sobin and the photographs of the American artist Lara Porzak; and the exhibition IN(SIGHT) that has just closed with Porzak and with the paintings of Pierre Bonnefille in the space LEclaireur Hérold, a concept store pioneer in the history of fashion and design collecting for 40 years. These exhibitions actually emphasize and enhance the fact that my gallery is a gallery without space, and therefore I don't have a fixed place in which I exhibit the works of the artists I work with. I also recently participated at Volta Basel and brought one of my artists, Hugh Findletar, to Venice Glass Week in the spaces of Palazzo Contarini Polignac.

Do you feel that it's more you "colonizing" the spaces with your gaze or that it's the space that somehow changes the mood of the artworks and can reveal something different about them?

I think it's both, and that is one of the challenges, the fact that I invest the space with my way of seeing - and then putting together various elements with what already exists. I don't have a white cube like most galleries, but environments that I collaborate with that influence how the works will be interpreted.

What kind of artists do you like to collaborate with?

I like to work with ceramists, glassblowers, photographers, painters, sculptors... Each has its own precise identity and expression, each uses its own medium, and for me, this diversity is the most interesting and stimulating aspect of this work.

 

When you start a project - be it in France, Switzerland, Italy or the United States - do you already have some collectors in mind? Are there market demands that you sense and try to satisfy? What is the process like?

I don't do the exhibitions for my collectors, they follow me based on what I choose to present. However, when I do consider different locations, I aim to come closer to them. For example, at this time, I am getting closer to America and Italy and offer collectors experiences closer to where they live. But again, I try to keep the synergy created between the space, the artist, and my initial inspiration at the center of the conversation. Collectors love to follow the artists they love, because I am the one putting these shows together.

Is there a generation gap among collectors? I'm afraid that there is a segment of emerging clientele that many galleries overlook but who look for projects that shuffle the cards and who are looking for all-around experiences such as dinners, private tours, musical performances etc.

I notice this aspect of collecting as well. I have a base of traditional collectors who, although, respond very well to the format of the Spaceless Gallery - they often don't fully understand being a gallery without a physical place, but they like the project and always follow me. Then there's another generation of collectors who respond better to event-oriented projects and immersive experiences. So I organize both dinners, concerts, etc. for old-school collectors and the emerging type of collector, building a comfortable environment for both categories.

How do you feel about trade shows? Yay or nay?

 I don't know yet, but I attend a few anyway.

For example?

Last summer I participated in a fair in Los Angeles and in September in Volta, Basel, which is a fair I love and where I am really proud to present my artists. I plan to participate in other fairs, photography for example, and then last year, at the same time as Nomad, I presented one of my artist's vases in a flower store in St. Moritz. The collaboration was successful because the two shared a passion and were able to establish a conversation.

So new approaches are always welcome in the path you see for the Spaceless Gallery?

Yes, and I also collaborate with other galleries. In November, I will also be collaborating with a curator named Khai Hori - based in Singapore but who was also a curator at Palais de Tokyo - who now has an agency to support artists, and together we will be presenting Speak Cryptic in Paris and Singapore from mid-November.

What's the next step?

I've made a selection of objects perfect for giving at Christmas that I hope my clients will like, which I also sell online, and which includes works ranging from one hundred to eighty thousand euros!

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