An entrepreneur in the fields of Art, Culture & Nightlife, Shapira (37) has been living & creating in Tel Aviv for the past decade. A graduate of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, founder of Indie Photography Gallery. Shapira is currently studying Curation & Museology at TAU and focusing his art around documentary materials from public domain.
We interviewed Shapira to talk about his process, and some of the challenges that comes with running such a collective.
Tell us a bit about the current show.
The current show, Walk On By, showcases INDIE’s 12 artists different types of works. Each has his/her unique take on photography and video and different subject matters they deal with via their art. The show, the first in the new space and after a year we have been on forced leave, brings us all together in a cohesive effort to show the connectivity between our different styles and interests, with a nod to the political and social climate of our surrounding environment.
What are the challenges of running a co-op gallery?
The biggest challenge is rising money and getting along with 12 artists who are part of the group, all very opinionated and different personalities
Who are the gallery “owners”/members and how is the the space run? How are decisions made?
We are all ‘owners’. The space and chores of running the gallery are divided equally between all 12 members. Each has a role that he is assigned and it’s his responsibility to execute it to the best of his (or her) ability . Operating the space money wise is also a shared task – all members pay the same amount of money (the sum it takes to run the space divided by 12). All decisions are brought to a vote – no one vote is worth more then the other. 51% majority is whats needed and on to the next order of the day
Are there external curators you use or do the artists curate the shows and alternate on that role?
We do use outside curators – that is our main preference. There are two (maybe three) types of exhibitions in the space:
– A 3.5 weeks solo show for each gallery member using an outside curator.
– A 3.5 weeks show for an invited “old school” established artist (non gallery member), using an outside curator of his/her choice.
– A 3 day, one weekend, exhibition, where a gallery member picks an outside artist and offers him the space for the weekend to invite fellow artist friends for a joint exhibition. Curation in this case, is done usually by the gallery member who initiated the call.
Do you also exhibit works by artists who are not members of the gallery? If so, what’s the selection process?
We do exhibit works by other artists and we value this very much. We believe that INDIE is a stage for all artists creating in the field of photography and video, and as such, its not all about us. So once a month we offer the space for a one off weekend show (3 days) to young, upcoming artists or more established ones that wish to show works outside their usual area of interest. This is kind of a greenhouse that allows people the freedom to show whatever they want, more spontaneous, without all the big questions that come with a big exhibition. Besides that, we also approach older established artists and offer them the opportunity to show in the gallery (like renowned ‘Israel prize’ photographer Micha Baram, or conceptual artist Tsvi Talkovski).
The selection process is done by personal knowledge of the artists body of work, joint meeting of gallery members where names of potential artists are brought up and voted on. We also get approached by artists with interesting ideas. As those come in, we deliberate if the project is right for the galley, and if so we give the ‘go -ahead’.
We do not charge any fee nor collect any money from anyone who shows in the gallery. We offer the space free of charge, as long as we deem the project good enough. We do P.R for all the shows ourselves, including media and emailing our vast email list. We also help anyway we can with the production process and hanging of the exhibition. We do not give money to artists or pay for their show or production costs. Those are paid for by the artists involved. Commercial interests are not a part of the process in any way shape or form: we give total creative freedom without any outside influences here.
Going back to the beginning of Indie, who started it and to what purpose?
The Gallery was established about 4 years ago by myself (omri shapira), Dana Landau and Daniela Orvin. All 3 of us were members of a different co-op galleryq/group that had to shut down and disperse. We wanted to continue our joint artistic venture so we decided that we ought to form a different group, more dynamic and open to different schools of thought regarding photography. Before moving into our new space at Shvil Hameretz, our old space was located at 57 Yehudi Halevi St.
What made you move to Kiryat Hamelacha?
Kiryat Hamelacha is Tel Aviv’s emerging art quarter. As with other big cities around the world, as real estate prices in the centre of the city become too high for non-profit independent ventures, so in Tel Aviv. Our old space is to be demolished to make way for a high rise building and finding another space in the same area was out of our financial reach. As with other galleries who had faced the same issue, moving to the old industrial part of Tel Aviv, with its big open spaces lofts at low rent prices, became the perfect option. We almost tripled our exhibition space and at the same time lowered our rent substantially.
How do you see the neighbourhood ten years from now?
The neighbourhood will most definitely become a hub for artists, cafés, cultural activities and eventually will become too expensive for anyone occupying a space in it today. Because it is so close to Jaffa, Florentin and other highly sought-after areas, plus being close to the freeway, Kiryat HaMelacha is on the right track of becoming east village-esque kind of place.
Indie Gallery Members
By Ella Manor
Multimedia artist, fashion photographer and writer Ella Manor specializes in photography, video performance, and painting installations and is currently a student at the postgraduate Fine Art program at Hamidrasha school of art. A graduate of FIT, ICP and ESC, Manor has been featured in photography and art publications around the world, won numerous photography awards, and exhibited her work globally. Currently living and working in Tel Aviv.