Alena, it has been a while since our last interview. What happened since founding Caldo Worldwide in 2018?
Hi! As a young gallery we are creating spaces for contemporary art and design in the digital space.
With our first virtual exhibition we set a clear focus on curated exhibitions and I am fortunate to work with a team which has expertise in many fields and professions.
Art and design is important.
It is part of our society and should not be taken for granted, it’s essential. It embodies and reflects our Zeitgeist. It is political and carries history. There are many people who devote their lives and careers to it. And we think those people should be able to make a living.
How is this year going for you?
This year truly helped me to clarify the values of CALDO. We don’t necessarily want to follow the standard guidelines for a business. The platform shouldn’t have to adhere to mainstream structures. We want to reach out to people who are interested in design and art and who share the same values we do.
What does the work between creatives & CALDO worldwide look like?
There are a few questions we usually ask ourselves and every potential collaborator: Do we share similar creative and professional values? If it’s a match, we talk about the artist’s work, evaluate potential obstacles and discuss our chances and possibilities. We also take a closer look at their marketing and management strategy and determine if and how we may improve on it.
In short: We make a plan and provide the artists with a platform which guarantees their work will be seen. My job is to offer a business perspective and make sure the art is properly valued by potential buyers.
Our creative director Christina is essential to this whole process. She has been a working professional in the art and design field for over 30 years and we couldn’t do what we do without her expertise.
What are some of the new works you are currently presenting and what inspired them?
They all are wonderfully unique. Fine art, books, special design products – we cover a lot of categories. In the future we want to focus more on curated exhibitions. The coronavirus has obviously impacted all of us and a lot of our new works were influenced by it as well.
Photo: Daniel Mayer, from the series FURIOUS ROCKERS, 1984, Coney Island, NY
Tell me. How did CALDO deal with it?
We first felt the effects of the coronavirus during the international jewelry week back in March. Usually designers and collectors from all over the world come to Munich for this event. We participated with our jewelry project called RING RING, which was displayed in a window of a small local record store. The opening was one week before the first lockdown and people were understandably scared, it was not really ideal timing for an opening. We were lucky that the exhibition was displayed in a window, so people were able to experience it safely. Luckily we still had quite the turnout, even though we already had to take precautions.
After that we had to find out a new way to bring art and design to people in times of social distancing.
So we started a project during the lockdown called „Drawings during Covid-19“. The approach was to support artists and provide them with a platform to tell their story. It was so interesting to see how emotional this project was. I loved how different stories and impressions were shared, everyone was talking about their individual lockdown story. It really felt like we were all in this together!
We are fortunate that CALDO mainly lives online and so the pandemic hasn’t affected us as badly as many other cultural institutions. The pandemic really motivated us to support designers, creatives and artists even more.
How will CALDO worldwide embed this focus, how will it be realised?
We created a digital space. We want people in the cultural industry to be able to show their work to a live audience – but online. We want to offer a virtual platform where art and design can exist and be appreciated.
Can you give us a more detailed picture of how this space will look like?
This space is shown during our first virtual exhibition in a showroom: DIG IT.
DIG IT is a digital group exhibit which showcases DIGITal possibilities in painting from young artists. The exhibition is curated by Jan Fischer, a talented young curator from Berlin.
Although I believe that a lot of the work speaks for itself, we will have some online guided tours with the curator. You can book a time slot and stay informed via instagram: caldoworldwide.
Sounds cool, when can I see it?
We opened on November 12, 2020. You can visit it online any time any day.
What else did inspire you recently?
This year has painfully shown us how far we still are from reaching true equality. For CALDO and our entire team it is essential that everyone is treated equal. No matter the color of your skin, your background, where you come from, and no matter who you love.
What’s happening right now should have touched us long time ago.
It should have mattered since ever, it should have been seen.
It’s hard to see that we are not a family, until we face what black lives fear, as long as we don’t raise our voice leading to actions.
It’s about empathy, about love, about freedom and rights, it’s about a fight.
It’s about black lives matter and always mattered!
I agree! Do you want to introduce your team to us?
Of course! My team is the most important thing to me, we create so many amazing things. Everyone has their own mindset and together we can create great projects – I believe working together is the foundation for a better future, people holding each other up and supporting each other!
Let us start with Jan Fischer, the curator of our next project:
I met Jan a long time ago, he’s actually close friends with my brother. I think he’s very talented. He lives and studies art history in Berlin and works together with young artists and does curatorial work for several galleries and projects.
Christina Mayer, my mother is our creative director and brings her experience and vision to CALDO. It also showed me the advantages to mix different generations in a project. You can share visions and experiences. My mother has a lot of it!
The design, CI, webshop, the Art space is all designed by her. Besides that she is mainly working in the cultural industry for example for museums and institutions.
I am so proud of her - without her we would never be at this point now.
They way she is working and being aware of the values of design and art, is what CALDO wants to manifest.
Annabelle Ferlings who is our texter and brings so much great content to CALDO. She basically writes down my thoughts and transforms them into something special. Bella lives in Vienna and has a degree in communications. Even though she prefers the real world to the digital one, she spends a lot of time in the www because social media is her job. Bella taught me that we should make good use of our time there and that social media should bring us closer together, not keep us apart.
Her motto in social media and real life is always: Being authentic and nice is cool. I think she’s one of the coolest people I have ever met.
Sounds like you have a great team, with a lot of people working different tasks. Let’s talk about the future - do you think the digital world and the internet is the future of artists and designers?
Not exclusively. A virtual showroom will never replace a real-life exhibition, but I think we need to open our minds to the new possibilities which digitalisation offers us. We don’t know what the future will look like. Being open to new experiences and forms of coming together in the art industry is so exciting! We can make art accessible to people from all over the world and bring them together, even in times of Covid-19 regulations. Talk to each other, explore an exhibition together and enjoy culture!
Is it that easy?
No, I know that art and design is in a crisis. But art will always matter, it is part of our society, it carries hopes, dreams and new perspectives.
To me it’s unimaginable to life without art and design. And I know I am not the only one. We have to make sure that we support small businesses, artists and designers – now more than ever.
So what would you say to every artist right now?
Develop your business administration skills in addition to your creative work.
Why not? I think you should be open to find out about the value of your own work. In our profit oriented world, we need creative and talented people to have an access to these resources too. If you develop your business skills as a creative you get a deeper insight in this industry. People are often scared of it, but I think once you understand the processes, you can actually really benefit from them. In an ideal world, we would all have the same chances, the same opportunities and a shared appreciation for art.
Thank you so much Alena. Is there anything else you want to say?
And to every woman out there: When others set limits – directly address and question them! Outside of CALDO I work in a male dominated industry and I remind myself of this every day! It’s about the mindset, I always want to know how far I can go.
That’s why I founded CALDO worldwide.
Interview with the founder Alena Valerie Rosa Mayer by Annabelle Ferlings, November 2020