How would you describe your project to our readers – what is Gallery 7:069?
7:069 is a platform that organises student exhibitions. We don’t own a permanent gallery space, therefore our exhibitions are organised as pop-ups, each time in a new location. We try to be consistent with showing students’ work but also present the gallery’s work as autonome activity where exhibitions are organised by students themselves -not tied to any educational institution or gallery. This kind of approach allows students to become acquainted with the various exhibition systems and the organization of the exhibition itself. The whole process starts with creating a portfolio, applying for an open call, communicating with the gallery and/or curator, then writing an artist statement and finally ends with successful presentation of the work. The easiest way to get acquainted with the process is by doing it by yourself. Since it is a (voluntary) student activity, we allow ourselves to experiment a lot and we aren’t opposed to projects that are still in the making. We can learn a lot from each other. Because we are all students, this exchange of knowledge and opinions is very relaxed. We involve and include as many students from different art schools (ALUO, AVA, U-Nova Gorica) as possible. Almost all of our exhibitions include a student from abroad or from the Erasmus+ program, who came across our open call.
And if it’s not a secret, who’s behind the project and what is it that you do?
The current 7:069 team members are Mihael Novak, Maša Knapič, Nina Goropečnik, Lara Reichmann and Lene Lekše. 7:069 is our joint side project. Otherwise we all work in different art fields. We all graduated from ALUO, where we all met, Maša as a painting major, Mihael, Nina, Lara and Lene as sculpting majors.
When was 7:069 created and why – how did it all begin?
We started the project in 2018. During an exchange abroad we came across student galleries which operated under the auspices of the school, but at the initiative and in the organisation of students. We were impressed by the fact that exhibiting and the organisation of exhibitions were an integral part of the study program. We wanted to create a similar space in our student scene. Because we lacked resources and didn’t want to bother with the bureaucracy for too long, we decided to take on the form of pop-ups and contact different galleries for exhibitions. We were very fortunate that Zala Orel, who runs the Layer House (Layerjeva hiša) art program, found our project intriguing and we had our first exhibition within about two months of the creation of 7:069.
Why the name 7:069?
We took the UDK code of the classification system, the system by which books are sorted in libraries. Under the number 7 you’ll find the field of art, but if you’re looking for informations about exhibitions, art events or catalogues, you’d find that under the code 7:069. Maybe we would have chosen a simpler name now. Still, people remember that it has something to do with numbers and often ask why, which is a great conversation starter.
How does it all work, how do you ‘operate’?
We are constantly searching for new locations and arranging dates. Most often we write directly to the galleries and spaces with which we would like to collaborate with or we apply for open calls. Recently some galleries have invited us to work with them on their own. Because we never exhibit in the same space, each exhibition is slightly different. The outcome of exhibition depends very much on the specifics of the space and communication with the gallery. When we worked with MOL (City of Ljubljana) we could not interfere with the space too much due to protection of cultural heritage – hanging things on the walls proved to be problematic in that case. Thus, we were forced to create a kind of ‘replacement’ wall, which of course impacted the reading of the exhibition profoundly. Other times we set up exibitions in spaces that are not necessarily (only) meant for exhibitions.
The guest member also has a great influence on the whole process. As they take on the role of the curator of the exhibition, they can greatly impact the entire process. Some are more dedicated to communicating with artists, while the approach of others is more theoretical. As a result, our roles also change. This way of work suits us, as each guest member gives a different approach to the exhibition. In a way, this also serves as a safeguard to keep us from becoming too homogenous in our work. We also publish a catalogue with each exhibition. It is the only physical evidence of the exhibition which remains. Each catalogue has an official record in the Cobiss system and can be viewed at the ALUO Central Library.
How do you connect with guest members, how do you make the selection?
We usually visit semester exhibitions and talk to the students about their work. We often ask artists whos works we find interesting to submit their portfolios. The guest member often suggests artist that we don’t know, which is always extremely welcome. In addition, we hold an open call once a year and select from the received applications. We keep all the projects we receive in a database which is reviewed each time we prepare a new exhibition. It often happens that the received works are included in later exhibitions.
What exhibitions have you presented to the public so far?
All our exhibitions are numbered according to the TV series system – the first one was titled S01: PILOT episode. At the time we didn’t have any expectations but the response we’d received was very positive, so we continued with the S01E01 exhibition in Velenje. We try not to focus our activities solely on Ljubljana, but of course this also depends on who is willing to collaborate with us. So far, we’ve held exhibitions in Kranj (Layer House, Stolp Škrolovec), Novo Mesto (Gallery Simulaker), Velenje (Stara Pekarna), Ljubljana (MGLC, THL, GalerijaGallery, Stekleni atrij Mestne hiše) and Cerkno (CMAK).
Our current exhibition S03E02 that we prepared in collaboration with Layer House was fistly planned for March but has been delayed due to the current (Covid-19) situation. We have now successfully opened it on May 15 and will be open for visits until 5 of June.
What are your future plans for 7:069?
If all goes well, we will be opening an exhibition in Kino Šiška in June. In the long run, however, we need to get serious about finding new members who will continue our project after we complete our studies.