Sean Alday talks to Irina Protopopescu of Slag Gallery.
IP: I finished school and had a degree in art, but later I went back to school. This time it was dental school, so I have a doctorate degree and I worked as a dentist for some time. I lived in Paris, Italy, New York. Wherever I was I was attending shows.
That was how I met the artists I show now, that and people I knew from graduate school in my country.
56B: And where are you originally from?
After all of that time in school and as a dentist, I decided to open a gallery. Prior to moving to New York I spent one final year in Italy and then toured Europe going to all these shows and biennials and wonderful things. So after that year was over I moved and opened the gallery.
Which was an ordeal in itself, I went to the Lower East Side and I went to Chelsea and opened one on 27th street. It was around the time of the crisis but I kept on going and ended up moving here.
56B: When did you relocate to this building?
IP: I moved here in February from Chelsea. I was on the ground floor of a building full of galleries.
I was just looking for another space. I looked first in Chelsea and the Lower East Side. I looked here, knowing so many artists in the area. One of my artists was in a Momenta show which is how I met everyone here. Finally we exchanged emails, I came out and checked out the space. I liked the energy and I really felt that it was a good fit.
56B: How have your shows gone thus far?
IP: From a general perspective: Things are going well.
Each day there are different challenges. I tend to welcome them [laughs]. I enjoy this new type of struggle. I am able to do the shows that I want to do.
56B: Briefly, what are the guiding principles for your gallery?
IP: Basically the guiding principle is pleasure.
I want to keep myself open to finding something new that will instantly grab my attention and imagination. When I choose the works from an artist’s studio, I want to tell a story based on the concept of the show. I install all of the work by myself. I can turn things around in the last minute. I do this so that I have freedom. I need freedom.
56B: How much freedom do you have here compared to your other gallery ventures?
IP: Basically the same amount but I pay less for this… I am able to send the artists to different shows here for example. It’s good both for them and for me, let’s not pretend that this exchange is completely altruistic.
But that is the same as with Bushwick Open Studios. It’s wonderful for the artists and if it’s wonderful for the artist then it’s wonderful for me.
56B: What is your main goal?
IP: Main goal? Hmm… well, I can’t say… it’s not really a business because it’s all pleasure. This is part of a bigger goal, a life goal. I take it day by day trying to make every single moment worth it.
Waking up in the morning and it’s not to an alarm, it’s a reaction to the desire and curiosity to keep going. I don’t even have to be excited to do so, even when I’m sad the curiosity is there.