Editor-in-chief of the journal and director of The Journal Gallery.
Petra Zechmeister: Hi, nice to see you again Michael. How are you? You must be exhausted from the opening of Juergen Teller yesterday, how late did it go?
Michael Nevin: It was the end of the fashion week so there were tons of people in town and it went on for quite a bit longer than most of our openings. There was so much energy around this show and I am quite tired, actually.
P: I missed Juergen Teller, who apparently had just left when I arrived. Did he make it back?
M: Yes he did. And after the opening we hosted a dinner for 60 people at the Wythe Hotel, which was a great time. The food there is really good.
P: Julia Dippelhofer, your wife and partner in The Journal Gallery, really stood out in the crowd yesterday in her gorgeous, colorful dress. Who made it?
M: That’s so funny you ask that. Julia comes from a fashion background, she studied at the Fachhochschule in Trier, Germany. When she moved to New York she worked for the designer Maria Cornejo but at one point decided not to pursue fashion and to work on the journal and The Journal Gallery together with me. She had this amazing group of friends from school in Germany, like ten really cool and all very talented girls, two of which have a label in Berlin called BLAME. They sent her the dress for the opening, which was really sweet, and somebody who was at the opening asked if it was a Blame dress which is kind of nice.
P: What’s the most interesting thing – besides the Journal Gallery – happening right now in NY?
M: Well, thank you for saying that. The incredible thing about New York is that every day you see something new and exciting, so it’s not necessarily the opening of a gallery or opening of a new store, or one artist, it’s more the day to day things that you can come across. There’s a guy who sits on the street corner by my house making chess pieces and chess boards, and you can sit down and play him if you like. That sort of thing is really interesting to me.
P: How did you become involved in VIENNAFAIR?
M: I met Vita Zaman through the artist Robert Irwin when he had a show at Pace. We’ve been friends ever since.
P: The Journal Gallery represents Colin Snapp, who I met yesterday at his studio space in Greenpoint. The visit was super interesting and I felt he has a lot say with his work, (Colin Snapp at his studio space in Greenpoint) and that’s probably why I missed Juergen Teller at the opening. Didn’t Colin have a show at your new space before it went under construction? How is the build-out coming along and when will you open?
M: Colin had the first exhibition ever in that space a few months ago. We just had the raw space and he presented a huge, 30-foot wide projection of a 2-channel video work entitled “Contionental Drift”.
It was a really great show and was an introduction to the new space for a lot of people. For the past months we have had the builders in the space and it is just about finished. When it opens on October 5, The Journal Gallery will have one of the biggest gallery spaces in Brooklyn, with more than 2000 square feet of exhibition space. I love our small space, but I am happy to expand from there and begin something new.
P: Who will be the first one to exhibit in the new gallery?
M: Daniel Turner, who is one of two artists we represent along with Colin. He has produced two large sculptures for the show, which will accompany an installation based work.
P: How do you think your work at the Journal Gallery is different from other galleries in NY? Do you know of another one that operates on a similar level?
M: I think the thing that distinguishes The Journal Gallery is that we work from our intuition and go after what we genuinely like and are interested in, rather than trying to make a diverse program and focusing on what is marketable. Most galleries come out of this lineage where the owner or director was working for other galleries, and there is a sort of machine that they go through, whereas Julia and I have never worked for another gallery. There are very few people that divert and do their own thing after they are shown how to operate a commercial gallery. Art is supposed to be this free form medium, but the art world is basically very structured and uptight. I like galleries such as Canada, where you can feel it has something exciting behind it – a point of view. I think there are so many spaces now that are focused on “oh, we need to do this, and we need to have a certain amount of artists, and do these fairs”, and I think that’s probably the wrong way to go about it. At some point you have to change or everything else will change without you, and the art world, galleries in particular, are due for change. The biggest difference between us and other galleries is that we have a magazine, which is a very important part of what we do in that it is an additional way of distributing ideas and getting others interested in what we do.
P: Which art fairs do you usually visit? Do you enjoy going there?
M: I’m excited to go to VIENNAFAIR, of course. I like going to fairs because they are a good barometer of what’s happening out there. I always enjoy Miami in winter and Art Basel Switzerland in summer, which was really fun this year. I think that in the end art fairs are really great in that you can go to one location and in matter of two days you can sort of get the temperature of the entire art world, which is amazing and something that you can’t do online or in any one city. And then you also see that art fairs are not the stuffy places that they were ten years ago. They have changed and adapted and started doing these interesting things, like the installation that Colin is showing at the opening of the VIENNAFAIR, for example. (See Tosca and Colin Snapp at the Viennafair Grand Opening Performance)
P: Did Art Basel Miami change everything in the past decade?
M: Yes, because for better or worse it was the one that really brought artists to art fairs. You now see fairs that instigate a new work for an artist, whereas before they were almost like stores. Now fairs have become producers in a sense, which is interesting and probably positive in the end.
P: You don’t have a booth in Vienna this year. Is this an option you could envision for the near future?
M: Yes. I’ve never been to Vienna before, so I am excited to go this year and to see what the city is about and see what the art scene is like there. As we start this new gallery, we are looking to participate in a few art fairs, so being a part of Vienna could be great.
P: What do you expect to take “home” from the fair? Inspiration, ideas, artwork? People you meet?
M: The main thing we are going to see Colin’s piece, and to just take it all in. I want to see if it is something we could do next year, and I want to have a good time and eat some good meals.
P: People told me you are one of the busiest people they know, so what’s on the agenda for the next year?
M: I really like to plan for big projects, but I also like to see how things go, come to The Journal and take things day by day. Right now the focus is on opening the new space and seeing that our programming for the two spaces is in order, put the magazine together, general things like that. Basically just see where everything goes and keep working. I’m just really excited about the future.
P: Thank you very much.
M: Thank you!