September 2009, Interview with Jesi Khadivi, Golden Parachutes

Paul Tyree-Francis, Jesi Khadivi


An Interview with Jesi Khadivi, Golden Parachutes, Berlin

Jesi Khadivi is one-half of the driving force behind Golden Parachutes, one of Berlin’s newest independent young galleries. As she is also a contributor to Whitehot Magazine, she seemed like an obvious interview subject for this ongoing series portraying up-and-coming Berlin-based gallerists.  
Travis Jeppesen: I’m curious as to what brought you to Berlin and why you chose this city as the launching pad for Golden Parachutes.

Jesi Khadivi: I wish I could say that my partner, Paul Tyree-Francis, and I had looked into different cities to find the perfect place to launch Golden Parachutes, but the honest-to-god truth is that we just like Berlin. In addition to being curators/gallerists, I am a writer and Paul is an artist and a graphic designer. We were both drawn to the city’s dualistic energy: It can be incredibly vibrant, as well as a sleepy place….We chose Berlin as a place to come and develop our personal practices and ended up opening an art gallery!  

While it wasn’t on the agenda when we planned our move from Los Angeles, opening Golden Parachutes wasn’t a total surprise for us. I studied art history and theory in college and worked in galleries in New York for years and we had wanted to open our own gallery for a while.

All that being said, there are certain aspects about being in Berlin that make our creative vision for Golden Parachutes possible. We’ve found the artists/curators/academics here to be quite community-oriented and the reasonable store front rentals here compared to cities like New York and Los Angeles make it possible for us to take more risks in our exhibition programming than we otherwise could.  

TJ: Your business model is unique in that you also offer “integrated media services” in addition to being an art gallery. Can you expound a little bit on this other aspect of the Golden Parachutes project?

JK: First and foremost, Golden Parachutes is a platform for artists. Paul and I have always had day jobs that funded our creative endeavors and understand that other artists do as well. Paul primarily runs the media angle of Golden Parachutes. Most of its clients are in arts and entertainment. Recent projects have included a complete website redesign for the NYC record label Luaka Bop and a site for the book American Portraits: 100 Countries. Golden Parachutes Media is still in its very germinal phases, but the reason we founded the media branch was to eventually be able to employ other artists. Right now it’s just us and a handful of others, but we hope to expand in the coming years. 

TJ: Like almost all of the galleries I am portraying in this series, yours is situated at a far remove from the traditional gallery districts in Mitte. Do you think his helps or hinders your project?

JK: Both! We don’t aspire to have a gallery in Mitte per se, but sometimes we do wish that we were hunkered down in a cluster of other galleries. That being said, things are going just fine in our little outpost out here. 
TJ: You’ve already amassed an interesting list of emerging artists, most (if not all) of whom are based here in Berlin. What kind of artists are you interested in representing? Is it essential that they have ties to the art scene here? What kind of general or specific qualities do you look for in art?

JK: Our taste leans towards content-driven work with a strong conceptual angle, but we’re also seduced by the materiality of art. Paul and I love painting, installation, sculpture, etc. What matters most to us is whether or not we like the work. So far many of our artists have Berlin roots and we plan to continue showcasing artists with some connection to Berlin, but next season will see more work from artists from further afield. Zach Houston, the California artist and poet who will be our first solo exhibition of the season, has never even been to Berlin!

I should also clarify that we don’t officially represent artists at this time. We plan to do fairs in the future, but aren’t there yet. That being said, we still facilitate connections between the artists (I almost wrote “our” artists!) and curators and the press. Artists that have worked with us have been included in exhibitions with other galleries through their affiliation with us.

TJ: What can we expect in the upcoming season at Golden Parachutes?

JK: We’re starting the season with a group exhibition on October 1st called Get Free %. It’s a conceptually oriented exhibition that experiments with applying alternative modes of economic exchange within a fine arts context. In other words, the artists will be bartering for their work. I don’t know what they’ll be asking for yet, the artists will determine that themselves, but I imagine it will range from the practical to the absurd. We’re excited to see what happens when something as private as bartering is enacted in a public sphere like an art gallery. My co-curators and I wonder if there will be a big rush on the work, or if people will be too scared. It has the potential to turn into a big performance…

Zach Houston’s solo show, Europeans Take Me With You Please, will open in November. He’s shown extensively in the United States, but this will be his first solo exhibition in Europe.

We’re launching two programs this winter in addition to our exhibition program. The first we’re calling *gps, a series of artist-initiated seminars and discussion modules. These “courses,” for lack of a better term, will cover both practical and conceptual issues, anything from a seminar focusing on close readings of alternate universes in Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada to an instructional module focused on building German conversational skills specifically geared towards artistic/creative fields.

Our second project is a flat-file program. We’re in the process of curating a selection of drawings, photographs, collages, and watercolors that we’ll store in our new flat-file. We’re aiming to have several pieces from each artist we choose. The artists’ work will be kept in individual folders, but the drawers will be grouped by medium. This file will be open to the public during gallery hours. We think it will be a great asset for Berlin-based curators to discover works by international artists, as well as a great opportunity for the gallery going public to have a more intimate, tactile experience with contemporary art.  


Travis Jeppesen

Travis Jeppesen's novels include The Suiciders, Wolf at the Door, and Victims. He is the recipient of a 2013 Arts Writers grant from Creative Capital/the Warhol Foundation. In 2014, his object-oriented writing was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and in a solo exhibition at Wilkinson Gallery in London. A collection of novellas, All Fall, is forthcoming from Publication Studio. 

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