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May 2nd 2007

Interview: Senko Studio 5 years

Doing it’s five years existence Senko Studio has shown 73 exhibitions in Viborg. The gallery has positioned it self both national and international. Read the interview with the owner Sergei Sviatchenko.

By Hans Henrik Jacobsen

Sergei Sviatchenko. Photo: Helena Sviatchenko

Senko Studio celebrates its 5 years anniversary. The result is 50 exhibitions in Senko Studio, 22 exhibitions in Senko Frame, showing videos after dark and one exhibition in the brand new Senko Windows Project, which started late March 2007. Sergei Sviatchenko the owner has expanded the activities of the gallery all through the five years. I interviewed Sergei in his first floor studio in downtown Viborg, an old city in the centre of Jutland.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen: How do you see the relationship today between Senko Studio and the local authorities? You have several times asked for economic support from the city?

Sergei Sviatchenko:  Yes, I have applied many times, and I have always been turned down. The city
claims, that it can’t support a private gallery. They don’t seem to understand, that Senko is not commercial, and it will never be commercial. That is not part of the concept. It is very rare, that a piece of art is sold in the gallery. I work with experiments and installations, and these things are not up for sale.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen:  In the city plans are circulating concerning a large art centre close to the lakes. Does Senko Studio still play a role in these plans? 

Sergei Sviatchenko:  No, I have dropped my participation in that project. Senko Studio is a unique institution today. Many artists are fascinated by the concept, where the whole street is drawn into the gallery because of the huge windows. Everything can be seen from the street, and sometimes the artists use the windows as a part of their installations.
The gallery itself is quite small but it is well suited for installations and experiments.

If I were to be part of an art centre, I would be forced to have regular opening hour, I would have to depend on others to help run the gallery. In other words my complete freedom would be lost. I think the strength of Senko Studio lies in my artistic freedom. It is better to be honest, and realize that I do not fit into such an art centre.

I hope that I can get economic support from private sponsors. They might se an advantage in supporting an experimental gallery. I also expect it to possible to cooperate with Kunsthallen Brænderigården in the future. In the autumn together we show an exhibition of Canadian Contemporary art. I look forward to that. I would be very pleased, if the city supported me financially, but I think it is not very likely.

I am not bitter. Viborg has given me so much. My family loves the city. It is an advantage to me, that the city is not that big. It is a challenge to work with experimental art here, and a lot of companies and friends support me economically and personally. PS-Tryk, Bergmann Skilte, Frits Kjær, Laier, Birk Laursen Offset and Ingolf Kristiansen. It is a nice gesture from all these people.

Senko Window, Night & Day Worlds Colide, March 2007   From Op til by Marianne Jørgensen and Frank Franzen, January 2006
Onochord by Yoko Ono at Senko Frame Project, March 2006   From Paralysed in Paradise by Edith Payer, December 2006

Hans Henrik Jacobsen: What kind of role does the gallery play after five years’ activities?

Sergei Sviatchenko: The development can be seen in number of people visiting our home page. In 2004 we had 2.700 visitors. In 2005 we had 9.000 and in 2006 14.000 visitors. Until now the figure in 2007 is 10.000 visitors. It is almost unbelievable. It tells me that the public now know who we are, and where we are. And I can feel a growing interest in being able to have an exhibition in the gallery.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen: It must have cost you a lot of money running this place without big sponsors?

Sergei Sviatchenko:  As I told before, a lot of people have helped me, but still I have had to finance almost everything myself. My friends say I am totally crazy spending all this money on Senko. But, it has become a part of my life.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen:  What has it meant to you personally being part of this experiment, to be able to shape this all by yourself?

Sergei Sviatchenko:  Obviously it has meant a lot to me. I have much more knowledge of art, on a national level and internationally. I know myself much better now, and my critical sense has been sharpened. And my international contacts have exploded in numbers. All the time I work to reach a higher level and to show a variety of artistic expressions: Photos, painting, installation, sculpture, video, design and fashion. I like an element of surprise anytime you visit Senko. I do not like to repeat myself, when I arrange exhibitions. And I have the opportunity to accomplish that, because I do not have to think about how much I sell.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen:  Your level of activity seems almost frightening.  You are a painter with obligations towards a gallery owner and customers. You teach, take part in workshops, you work with photo, collage and installation. And you have your own gallery. You decorate the environment in different companies. How do you accomplish all these activities at the same time?

Sergei Sviatchenko: I guess I am a “workaholic”. I can’t live without working. And it’s not me painting all the time. I need to do something different as well. It is supplementary “thing”. I think I work better that way although it may sound odd.

Hans Henrik Jacobsen: What are your immediate plans for the future?

Sergei Sviatchenko: There is always a new exhibition in Senko Studio. The next one is with Bettina Camilla Vestergaard from Copenhagen, Denmark. I take part in a group exhibition in Toronto, Canada together with Jesper Just and Søren Lose, two excellent Danish artists. There is a solo exhibition with collage and photo in Gallery Spark in Copenhagen in June. As you can imagine, it would be impossible to run an ordinary gallery with these activities. I have to do things my way, and coordinate as much as it is possible. I can only do this as an independent gallery owner.


Related articles:
Reportage: Senko Windows Project
Portrait of Sergei Sviatchenko
Interview: Senko Studio and Kforumvienna
Snapshot: Territory of water
Reportage: Trevi workshop
Essay: Darwin my Friend
Senko Studio 3 års fødselsdagsgave

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