“The good gallerist is the one who sells, but the great one is who sells artworks that he would buy in a blind sale!”
AT: How did you start engaging with the art world and how/when did you decide it could become your profession?
CG&EA: Technically speaking, you start getting involved in art world the very first time you feel the urgency to buy an artwork. We were both collectors before passing the line and becoming professionals. The main force that drove us towards the decision of opening a gallery has been the desire to get physically involved in the creative process. We would have not had American Pop Art without Castelli and we both secretly dream to become the seminal figure behind an art revolution.
AT: What convinced you opening your first own space and then changing its location in 2018?
CG&EA: We were looking for a space to express our curatorial view and so we decided to create it from scratch! Having a physical space that could be visited and experienced by enthusiasts and collectors was at the center of our project and so we decided to open our first space in San Lorenzo. After a few years we started noticing a strong evolution in our professional life and we felt we needed a new skin that could show the transition. Rome was still an important part of our equation and so we decided to move the space right in the middle of what is becoming the contemporary art district of the city, walking distance from all the big names. The opening of the new location in Via della Seggiola was our personal stage of the butterfly.
AT: What are the toughest and the most fulfilling aspects of your job?
CG&EA: Starting with the best, the highest achievement we can get as gallerists and curators is to select and create a link between what we think is good art and our public. There is a big responsibility connected with our work since we are all contributing to the creation of what will be recorded as the cultural heritage of our generation. Having the chance to show someone your vision through the artist you chose to work with is by far the most fulfilling part of the job. Talking about the toughest, we must say that looking for the best compromise between the pure creative process and market’s rules and dynamics is probably the most difficult task we must face.
Lisa Sebestikova, Strutture di contenimento, 2020 | Installation view.
AT: White Noise “is a project before being a gallery”. Can you tell us more about your vision and your curatorial approach?
CG&EA: First of all we must identify without hypocrisy the goals of an art gallery: to sell artworks. You will never be invited to Art Basel only because of the edginess of your curatorial view and most probably you will never be remembered if you are not invited to Art Basel. Nonetheless, profits and margins cannot be the only drivers of an art gallery. The pure curatorial view that you would find in an art project has to always be the core of a gallery’s offer. The good gallerist is the one who sells but the great one is the one who sells artworks that he would buy in a blind sale! This is why we consider ourselves a project before than a gallery: because we think that the first parameter should always be curatorial rather than commercial. With this vision in mind you can tell that a physical space is just a single element of the big picture. Our gallery is the main channel we use to promote our vision but it cannot be the only one and we will try to expand our offer with several external activities in the future.
AT: How do you intend the gallerist – artist relationship? What is the first step you make and how do you relate with them?
CG&EA: That kind of relation is the very center of our job. It is a sort of alchemic formula that is crucial for the creation of a great series of artworks. When something goes wrong or the relation is unilateral, the works immediately reflects it and the entire collaboration never reaches its full potential. There are so many different factors involved that it can easily be considered as a love story; most of the times is just a flirt but when you get the good match it makes you feel like a superhero. The first step is always to observe from distance the work and the evolution of the artist. Anyway there is a step that despite not usually being the “first” is by far the most important in order to establish a relationship: to meet the artist and to look for a human affinity. Insisting on the metaphor, you better not judge just on the Tinder profile picture when you look for your future partner. Talking about how to relate with an artist the receipt is very simple: mutual respect.
AT: How important is ‘networking’ in your job? How do you relate with your same-field colleagues?
CG&EA: At the very end of the day networking is one of the main factors for the success of a gallery. Our business is heavily reputation-based and the network you create works as a platform that amplifies both pros and cons of your work. The more they talk about you, the more they will listen at you. You can literally tell the influence and the power of an art system operator by observing how many reactions he triggers when he appears at a vernissage; for a gallerist is no different. We pay a great attention to the relations we establish with fellow gallerists. We are all fishes swimming in agitated waters and we have the power to calm it down only by swimming in the same direction.
Francesco De Prezzo, Subverting expectations without erasing their origins, 2020 | Installation view.
AT: What is your relationship with art fairs?
CG&EA: The role they have in the art system nowadays is close to hegemony. Not only they are fundamental in order to sell and to create contacts but they literally define the career of an art gallery. In a certain way, in a system dominated by the market, art fairs inherited the role that used to be of the art critics. You can have an almost complete spoiler on what you will see in the next ten years biennales just by visiting Frieze and Art Basel. So if a gallery choses not to attend art fairs it is condemned to be just a local phenomenon. The yearly schedule of the art fairs is what dominates most of the strategic choices of an art gallery and we make no exception.
AT: How would you describe the collectors of your gallery? How important are they for you?
CG&EA: We can only describe them by telling how important they are for us. Buying an art piece is a strong statement made by a collector and every time someone decides to get a piece from us we feel like we’ve been successful in creating the link we were talking before. We rely on our collectors not only for economic survival but also as a mirror of how good we are in doing what we try to do. Talking again about relationships, the one you establish with your collector is probably the most important. Not only a satisfied collector is the best possible form of advertisement but is also a priceless resource in order to wide your network. Our collectors are often good friends, always sincere critics and frequently our best advisors on new artists to work with.
AT: What is the role of the digital tool in what you do?
CG&EA: It would be impossible to work in the art system now and ignore the importance of the so-called digital tool. What is always important to take in consideration is nonetheless the fact that it has to remain a tool and every tool is functional for an action. The digital experience of art has never to be confused with the real one. Both the worlds, real and digital, are not able to completely represent each other and what was born for the real life experience can only be approximated by its digitally counterpart and vice versa. We do use the digital tool in order to push more people to the real experience.
Michele Gabriele, Clumsy and Milky: Encoding the last quarter of a pose, 2018 | Installation view.
AT: What do you think will be the role of the galleries, in the next future?
CG&EA: It will be even stronger than before. The thin line between commerce and culture will fade and finally disappear and top galleries will be considered at the same level of public museums. We already know how galleries are able to determine acquisitions for the public collections. If you consider that top galleries can rely on budgets that are several times higher than the one you get for museums you can easily tell why they’re almost ready to compete with non profit institutions. What happens in Basel Unlimited, more of an art show than a commercial initiative, is a great preview of the role that galleries are reaching in the cultural panorama. Once the sense of reverence that most of the people still have in entering art galleries will be finally won, the transition will be completed and they will become the main player in cultural divulgation for contemporary art.
AT: Next projects on site?
CG&EA: We don’t like to tell a lot about next shows. What we can tell for sure is that we’ll go on doing what we like the most: looking for new artists that make us fall in love and show them to our friends.
AT: If you had to give some advice to a youngster who wants to open a space, what it would be?
CG&EA: Try to have immediately clear why you decided to open the space. Coherence is what makes your work strong and the first person you have to be coherent with is yourself. If you understand what you want and try your best to reach the goal your work will be stronger and, most important, you will end up enjoying the process.
Santissimi, Rebirth, 2018 | Installation view.
In its second life -started with the change of location in 2018- the White Noise widens its vision, opening up towards the most internationally relevant researches. It is a project before being a gallery, where the physical space represents only the starting point and research and experimentation are the keystones leading the choices of the two founders Eleonora Aloise and Carlo Maria Lolli Ghetti. The curatorial and conceptual view of White Noise does not investigate contemporary art only by displaying the present time; it tries to stimulate a debate and a vision of the future through the eyes of the most promising young Italian and international artists. The space of via della Seggiola in Rome is strongly characterised, it has and identity and a history, but White Noise project wants to overcome the walls of the gallery dialoguing and mixing up with private and public spaces, new markets and new environments, breaking down geographical and cultural barriers.