Industry voices: Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard

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  1. Hi Charlotte, it’s a pleasure to have a conversation with you. We found that you started a nomadic gallery in 2020 to promote French and international artists. Could you tell us a bit more about the idea and concept of the nomadic gallery?
The concept of the nomadic gallery is very simple: it’s exactly like a “normal” gallery but I don’t have a fixed location. Every exhibition can be held in a new location, either a traditional white cube or something completely different. Artists are usually happy with this as it offers them different perspectives and the opportunity to show works in opposite settings. I still have a fixed office and showroom to show works between exhibitions though.
Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard with Ines Longevial, courtesy of the owner.

  1. From your experience and observation, do you think that activities such as nomadic galleries will become more popular in the future and even replace, for instance, the gallerist profession?
The gallerist profession is the same exactly – the only difference is the nomadic lifestyle for the gallery. I don’t think it will or even can replace the traditional model, especially for blue-chip galleries. It might become more and more popular for younger galleries who show young artists though, as the fixed costs are much lower. But we need our major galleries in their historical locations just like we need museums!
Ines Longevial exhibition view, Courtesy of the artist and Ketabi Projects © Studio Shapiro

  1. We can say that today's exhibition methods remain very much in the convention from the XXth century, the so-called white cube. The aesthetic focuses on exhibiting artworks against white walls. In your opinion, does this arrangement still serve a good function, minimizes the viewer distraction, or does this convention become more and more monotonous therefore people need something more, a context in the space, created story around the works themselves?
I think it’s interesting to be able and free to do both. Some works need to be set in a white cube. Others can be shown in completely different spaces. It also depends a lot on the artist and how he wants to curate his exhibition. But both are necessary. 
Ines Longevial exhibition view, Courtesy of the artist and Ketabi Projects© Studio Shapiro

  1. What do you think about the increasing popularity of NFTs or non-fungible tokens in the art market, and does it have an impact on what you do?
NFTs are for me a more financial part of the art market – but if one of my artists wanted to do one I wouldn’t be against it, just for the experience! What’s interesting with NFTs and what people don’t talk about is what the technology offers in terms of certification of authenticity for major works for example, by creating a special hidden key on major artworks and linking it to an NFT which would be the certificate of authenticity. This technology is very promising especially for works >1M USD to dissuade thefts. 
Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard with Idir Davaine, courtesy of the owner.

  1. As the founder of Ketabi Projects, is it more valuable for you to have a one-off exhibition with multiple artists or, for example, a broader activity with a specific artist?
I represent artists (two officially for the moment, more to come) and I work with them for a long term. I show them in art fairs in solo or group shows and I hold solo shows for each of them in different spaces. I will also present a group show soon. 
Idir Davaine, courtesy of the Ketabi Projects

  1. If you were to describe yourself in a more familiar framework, would you say that you are closer to a gallerist, curator, maybe manager of artists? Or you combine these spheres in something hitherto unknown?
A gallerist is an art dealer, a curator, and a manager of artists. That’s what I am!
Written by
Jagienka Parteka