Alexey Shifman

INTRODUCING Alexey Shifman and the Destruction Exhibition

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With London Photo Fair and Photo Basel coming up, we are not only looking forward to some excellent photography again, but we are also particularly interested in the people who actually run galleries dedicated to photography, which can be a quite challenging area in the art market. Even more so when you work with emerging and young photographers like Alexey Shifman. Shifman of Russian descent with Jewish roots is an interesting character himself, as his first profession is that of a naval engineer. He uses his mathematical skills and visual knowledge to create a quite unique intellectual mindset for the two galleries he is running: the RAW Streetphoto Gallery in Rotterdam and the Gloss Gallery in Tel Aviv. With the RAW Streetphoto Gallery, he is aiming to to develop a photography movement in Rotterdam and is offering a platform for emerging street photographers. Their current “The Global Circle exhibition“ project was kicked off earlier this year with the worldwide travelling group show called DESTRUCTION, featuring four international young photographers. Many good reasons for us to speak with Mr Shifman before we pay him a visit at Photo Basel this year!

Alexey, you are not only leading the RAW Streetphoto Gallery in Rotterdam, which primarily serves as a platform for street photographers, but also the Gloss Gallery in Tel Aviv. You yourself come from another area professionally. Please give us a brief summary of how this all started and what drives you as a gallerist above all else?

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Hi! You are totally right: In my first profession, I am a naval architect who runs two galleries at the same time. Art was always in my life but on a very unconscious level. I never saw myself as an artist. The understanding that there was a possibility of being a curator came much later. In my family’s house, there were many books and as a child, I used to spend endless hours reading books, long weekends in museums and studying engineering science. Art and engineering always existed next to each other until a certain moment in my life.

After that, I found a way of balancing between vessel design and directing an art gallery.

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Edgar Kim, Untitled, Wonderland series, 2015, Archival pigment print

Please explain your focus on street photography and how you define this field?

Personally, I enjoy many different areas of photography, but in my research I did not see the art galleries giving a lot of space to emerging photographers. My question was how an artist can artistically develop if he/she has no place to show an audience the artworks without social media? That way the core value of RAW Streetphoto Gallery came to evidence: it is a place for street and experimental photography. The gallery provides its help to accelerate the artistic career of photographers. This year we are taking part in Photo Basel during the Art Basel week for the first time, so the gallery is developing well.

The gallery provides its help to accelerate the artistic career of photographers.

This year we are taking part in Photo Basel during the Art Basel week for the first time, so the gallery is developing well.

In the Destruction exhibition, you are showing four international artists with very different positions. You play with the idea and approach that energy never comes out of nowhere and energy never just disappers somewhere – instead it changes its form and we can re-model the reconstructed past theoretically to create a foundation for new constructions or beginnings. I find this approach extremely exciting.

Thank you for the compliment. I love this idea, it comes from astronomy. The principal is that before we get certain energy we need to burn something first. Look at the sun: it gives us energy and life can thrive, while it burns helium to create the heat; going deeper the sun itself was created due to major galaxy catastrophes.

This is a lifecycle that we are part of.

With the Destruction exhibition, I have challenged this idea on a more daily basis: how human destruction of surroundings redefines new life and new creativity.

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Please tell us briefly how the idea for this exhibition came about? What was there first, the artists or a vision, and how did you select the artists?

At first, I was reflecting on what I observe around me and where I see it. As the idea of destruction started to become clearer, it was easier to find the artists and curate the works in the exhibition statement direction. It was a very challenging process and creative work at the same time. Reflecting on the source of life is a very passionate thing to do:

The idea that humans and stars are made from the same material! That is fantastic

In your position as a curator, when it comes to this particular energy you are creating in this case, in the form of photography, that can and should serve as an motor – what do you specifically conjecture socially as the outcome of this show?

As a curator, I want to create the artist’s access to a much larger audience as opposed to the reach of a single exhibition: the show was already in Rotterdam, in May it will be in Tel Aviv, later Los Angeles, Mexico City, London and Hong Kong. I love the possibility of showing big ideas on a large scale and having the unique possibility to communicate with audiences around the world. Sharing my observations and fascinations – what can be more motivating!

Global Exhibition: DESTRUCTION | San Serif, Zakaria Wakrim, Hector Jiminez, Edgar Kim

Gloss Gallery, Tel Aviv 16th of May, 2019

Photo Basel: 11th – 16th of June, 2019

Header Photo: San Serif, Tel Aviv

Author: Esther Harrison