Uploaded January 22, 2016
THOSE GOLLIWOGS CALLED GALLERISTS (a diskurso.com interview-with-gallerists series)
Interview with AltroMondo's Boy David
diskurso.com interviews banker Boy David about 1) the history of his soon-to-be 6-year-old project called AltroMondo Arte Contemporanea gallery in Greenbelt 5 and 2) where the gallery is headed in the years to come.
text below and video interview by Jojo Soria de Veyra
video direction by Marcel Antonio
EVERYONE calls him Ser Boy in the way we Filipinos address our male seniors---with a "ser" preceding their nicknames. It has nothing to do with any influence from the East India Company, and we have already been doing it way before we even heard the lords of Game of Thrones addressed with the same honorific. Yes, not as sirs but as sers, in case you've yet to visit the TV series or read the novel source.
". . . we were thinking---as we set up our camera---that Ser Boy has been quite this humble jet-setter of a successful banker married to a Frenchwoman who really has neither need to decorate his tales nor a predisposition to apologize for mere sharing of observations culled from his talent as a one-time honest film, art, and food and wine reviewer for a paper in France."
Anyway, the first or second time diskurso.com talked to Ser Boy, Remigio David to you, he was already surprising us with tales of travels and immersions foreign even to our cable-TV-pounded heads. For instance, over crème brûlée and espresso coffee at Cibo, he made us salivate on a supposed truth that in Europe gallerists would send checks to newspapers or magazines or art blogs to in turn send their reviewers to cover the former's shows, but not expecting peacock-words- or weasel-words-rich reviews for treats. Reviewers are supposedly invited to at least cover, that's all, with even the most negative of takes still treated as constructive criticism that is as much an honor as getting a rave one. At a symposium on art criticism that diskurso.com attended and where we brought out this bit of interesting arrangement and system that seemed to have a high regard for critics' independence and status, gallerist Sylvana Diaz contested the veracity or truth of that report. Fortunately we met again with Ser Boy where he said he stands by his knowledge and added that there really is nothing wrong with that arrangement, especially when compared to how Filipino art culture treats art writers---often as mere PR word-decorators whose knowledge are more bric-a-brac for collectors' semi-appreciation than anything, thus as low-paid dime-a-dozen help.
Fast-forward to our video interview with him last Saturday for a second piece in our Those Golliwogs Called Gallerists series. While he sat with his back to a soft sculpture by Olivia d'Aboville who is showing her new pieces at AltroMondo this month, we were thinking---as we set up our camera---that Ser Boy has been quite this humble jet-setter of a successful banker married to a Frenchwoman and really has neither need to decorate his tales nor a predisposition to apologize for mere sharing of observations culled from his talent as a one-time honest film, art, and food and wine reviewer for a paper in France. That feeling and thought made us think we could freely ask him anything, anything at all, alternating between addressing him as "Ser Boy" and merely as "Boy". Well, you could say that in the following video below he made statements and told stories that probably would not find much contention among members of the Philippine art community, but we can't really be sure about that. After all, you can still find people who would contest the most innocent or deeply knowledgeable of stories by gallerists. Statements or stories like:
"...that guy Irving Blum, I remember the gallery only lasted less than five years. But they were able to get big artists in this gallery. And he was also able to get to that gallery the likes of Warhol. And there was one occasion, at least, where he did not totally got bankrupt, because in 1971 there was this series of canned soup by Warhol in Ferus..., and then that series was not sold, and he took title of it, and then in 1996 he was able to sell it to MoMA for 15 million when it was only bought for $1,000."
"Gallery management is fun, but it can also be a source of discomfort, especially when you see that the finances are not doing well."
"A gallery manager, or a gallerist, should be able to really discern how he can influence taste, also. He's got that possibility to mold taste, and some people have done that. I'm not consciously trying to do that, but hopefully we will set some kind of trend in the future."
"...what is important for me is the intellectual context at which all these kinds of art are being presented. Because it shapes society.... Anything that will shake society, and will absorb it into the conventional way of doing things in that particular society, that matters."
"It must be relevant. It must be beautiful. It must be intelligent.... Of course it (can have) its formalities, and it (can always have) its element of fun. Because in the contemporary context it can be fun, it can be provocative, it can be ironic, it can be appalling. But if they can do it and present it in a way that will convince, that will make people think...whether it's going to be poo-pooed or disdained by some viewers, it doesn't matter; what's important is it moves certain people. It makes them think, it makes them contest, it makes them satirize, whatever. That's art. It's the aspirations of humanity."
"It's very difficult to displease an artist in the Philippines. We don't have that kind of sensibility to be criticized...even if it's constructive, (if it) bitches they will look at it as an affront. The logical setup is different."
"I do not believe in signing people to contracts. Because, for me, what is more important is having the respect. And that's also where I gauge the professionalism of the artist. Kasi if you put them in a kind of contract, that's being selfish. Because, let's face it, an artist cannot be forever continuously under your wing. He has to seek greener and better pastures also.... It should be a laissez-faire thing, a laissez-faire relationship with a lot of respect for each other. For me that's the thing that counts."
"I've talked to some people that are already established, big. I received some cold shoulders. Some people should realize that I also have some good connections, particularly with some foundations...like Fondation Cartier...and I could bring them. But it seems like they didn't take me seriously. I have offered it to some guys, but I do not want to push myself.... But, hopefully, those that we are trying to mentor now, the moment that they get into that level of celebrity or notoriety, I should be able to bring them together in some big institution in Berlin or Paris or in Madrid."
And so on. . . . And so, now, without further ado, let's go to the video interview. [ d ]
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