In Conversation with Annika Peterson: TURN Gallery's Founder on Why She Listens to the Artist's Voice
TURN Gallery is a small space for big ideas and concepts. In its compact, white-box gallery setting, Annika Peterson, its owner and head curator, has recently presented some of New York's most engaging, intelligent, and compelling exhibitions. I've been a fan since its 2015 inception, from its very first exhibit, a retrospective of the now late iconic fashion photograper Gosta Peterson (Annika's father). I was mesmerized by his daring and larger-than-life images of fashion luminaries like Twiggy and Naomi Sims. Other outstanding shows have included work by the Brooklyn-based painter Kimia Ferdowsi Kline, who excels in representing intimacy and special sistershoods. Up until a few days ago, the vibrant and fantastical painted scutpures of Rachel Eulena Williams were on view, which had been paired with a choreography sequence, where both art forms, the visual and the performative, communicated thoughtfully. Peterson shares more on TURN Gallery's philosophy and why she is always listening to the artist.
Gallery Gurls: TURN Gallery is such a unique and intimate space. Tell me what led you to establish TURN?
Annika Peterson: The idea came to me in the middle of the night. I wasn't thinking of opening a gallery at the time. It was more of a concept, a means of bringing artists together who weren’t getting the exposure they deserved. A friend of mine generously offered his loft space to me for a few months which gave me the ability to experiment, and everything grew from there. It was a very intimate experience, it wasn’t about selling anything it was just about doing. A year later I opened the gallery on East 1st Street.
"Yes, it is a lot of work, but work isn’t really work when you love it right?"
It looks like you are a one-woman gallery operation. How do you manage it all? Your roster, programming, and marketing?
One foot in front of the other and a great assistant. Directing the gallery, curating the shows, working with the artists it is all one thing to me. I can’t imagine it any other way. Yes, it is a lot of work, but work isn’t really work when you love it right?
"I don’t have a formula nor am I married to a medium. My eyes are always open."
You encounter so much art on a daily basis. As a curator what do you look for? What elements resonate with you?
That is tricky to define into words. A strong honest voice- a thread that connects or maybe it disconnects. I believe in artists with strong convictions, doing something with purpose. I don’t have a formula nor am I married to a medium. My eyes are always open. The main thing is that I am passionate about the work. It’s really about gut instincts.
"Art is about a conversation. Listening is key. As a gallerist, you make a choice."
Now that you are in a formal space and functioning in the art gallery market, has your focus had to change?
The spirit of TURN is the same. My focus is to steward the artist’s distinct vision, not the market trends. Art is about a conversation. Listening is key. As a gallerist, you make a choice. Articulating the artist’s voice is my driving force.
Outside of TURN Gallery, what are some projects and passions that you like to pursue?
Photography is in my blood and I have been wanting to get back into the dark room for awhile. Growing up with developer and fixer between my fingers, I miss that magic. Living in the digital age, something definitely gets lost. Also, I really enjoy helping expose art to children. I am grateful to have had parents who gave me that gift. Starting next summer, a friend of mine is creating a mentoring program for young girls in New York and she asked me to head the arts program. I'm very much looking forward to getting that rolling. Keeping the arts alive for future generations, our minds open, and our planet healthy, I'm all about that.
Follow TURN Gallery on Instagram: @turngallery