Outside the Frame: Interview with Annka Kultys
Lara Pan: How long have you had your gallery and how did you make the transition from collector/art enthusiast to gallerist?
Annka Kultys: Annka Kultys Gallery opened its doors in London in September 2015. I’ve heard it said that you become a collector when you have more pieces than the walls of your home can hold. The first artist the gallery represented was the internet star, Molly Soda, who presents her web-based performances across social media platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. Molly’s work can be read as anthropological research about social behavior on social media.
Lara: You have been working exclusively with young artists and new media that don’t yet have a regular market, highlighting newcomers such as Signe Pierce and Molly Soda. It’s a risky business model to show works produced in formats that are not traditionally marketable and don’t have an established market. How did you make this choice?
Annka: One could argue that the two artists you note are not exceptional in the sense that they do not yet have an established market for their works. Showing young artists is a risky business in general, and showing young artists working mainly in new media, can seem even riskier.
Lara: How do you translate native digital works from online space to the gallery space? What is the process like with the artists?
Annka: Each artist is different. Molly Soda’s entire oeuvre is available online. The gallery is able to augment Molly’s followers’ existing experience of her works, by presenting them in a new context, i.e. as part of a curated show exploring the inter-relationships between works on show, drawing out the themes across and within Molly’s work.
Lara: How did you meet Molly Soda and Signe Pierce, and how did you start to work together?
Annka: Online, of course! I received a newsletter from Artnet in June 2015 featuring the Molly Soda series ‘Should I Send This?’ which explored why Molly was leaking her own nude selfies via a website of the same name. I flew to Detroit, where Molly was living and working at the time, and we started collaborating on her first solo show, which was produced that year. Then Molly and the Swedish artist, Arvida Byström, co-curated the first summer group exhibition ZERO ZERO at Annka Kultys Gallery and invited Signe as one of the exhibiting artists. I met Signe at that show, and Signe’s first solo show at the gallery followed a year later.
Lara: Could this be a trend or do you think it’s a definite paradigm shift in how we define art? How do you see your role as a gallerist and collector in shaping this outcome and ensuring the longevity of these works?
Annka: Digital art has been at the forefront of the new media revolution in the art world since the 1970’s. The revolution continues today with an even more accelerated pace. As John Kelsey notes, “The laptop and the phone have already supplanted the studio as a primary site of production.” I can only expect that soon, unless they stay with older artists, more and more galleries will feature this kind of media. It raises its own issues, of course, such as provenance and preservation. All the works Annka Kultys Gallery sells come with a certificate of authenticity, and are provided as a memory stick, but for the preservation of video works, it would be prudent to migrate these over time to upgraded formats. As to the longevity of artworks in an art historical context, who can say what will become canonical in 40 or 50 years’ time, but critical and curatorial recognition is a necessary step along the way.
This interview has been condensed and edited. To read the full interview with Annka Kultys, check our latest issue RISK.